As many as 150 children and young people with cancer will receive help and support thanks to a grant of £74,000 from Cambridgeshire Freemasons to the Young Lives vs Cancer charity
The grant will fund a specialist social worker based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as they provide a tailored package of emotional, practical and financial support to young cancer patients and their families. Their support will help young people and families overcome the challenges and fears they face during treatment and beyond. Young Lives vs Cancer social workers are there from the point of diagnosis to offer practical support and advice whether it’s about school, relationships, mental health or life with cancer in general.
Young Lives vs Cancer supports children and young people across the East of England including Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, who have been diagnosed with cancer and being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Bradley Willcox, 22 from Norwich, has been supported by the charity since he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October 2020. His Young Lives vs Cancer social worker, Rich, was there for him every step of the way, to face both the emotional and financial impact of a cancer diagnosis.
He said: 'Rich was available for me to have text and call conversations with and he helped me access grants and other facilities to ensure that all my needs were met and went above and beyond to take on anything he could to make my experience more comfortable. He always made me feel comfortable when asking for help which is something I’ve always struggled with.'
Every year, around 300 children and young people, from new born babies through to those aged up to 25 years, across the East of England will hear the life-changing news they have cancer. When a child or young person hears this, everything changes. Treatment often starts straightaway and can last up to three years. It can be a scary and isolating experience for anyone, at any age, but for a child or young person it can have a significant impact on their education, social development and future prospects.
Cancer also impacts on more than just a child’s physical health but their mental health as well. Coping with the news of cancer and dealing with the side effects of treatment (such as feeling exhausted, weight loss/gain, losing hair) can have a detrimental effect upon their confidence and self-esteem, which we know can lead to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
There is a financial impact of cancer that families that have to cope with. Many highlight that the additional costs of travel, food and accommodation to attend hospital appointments, can cause them further anxiety and financial worry at a time when they just want to be there for their child.
The grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Julie Millar, Head of High Value Fundraising at Young Lives vs Cancer, said:
'We’re very grateful to Cambridgeshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will make a huge difference to local children and young people with a cancer diagnosis. Whether it’s emotional support to them and their families, helping them to access essential benefits or making sure they continue their education during treatment, there is so much that can be done to make their lives better.'
Bill Dastur, Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire Freemasons, said:
'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Young Lives vs Cancer with their excellent project to help children and young people with cancer. There is so much that can be done to help them and their families as they undergo treatment, not least helping them to keep up with their schoolwork. This wonderful charity is helping to treat the patient and the family, not just the disease.'