Every year in the UK, around 1,900 children (0-14) and 2,500 young people (15-24) are diagnosed with cancer - that's around 12 a day (CRUK, 2019).
Happily survival rates are increasing. But young people remain vulnerable after treatment as it comes at a time of rapid physical, emotional and social development.
The most obvious impact of treatment is on body image. Side effects can include temporary hair loss and weight gain to permanent scarring, amputation and brain damage. Many young people contend with ongoing late effects too, such as extreme fatigue, infertility, osteoporosis, thyroid problems and hearing or vision loss.
Young people with cancer struggle with a range of emotional and mental health problems too - 70% experienced depression during treatment, 90% had anxiety and 83% felt lonely (CLIC Sargent, 2017).
Many miss education, don’t sit exams or have to leave jobs whilst on treatment. They can be crippled by shyness as they lose day-to-day contact with new people and their friends move on. Survivor guilt is also common, as young people question why they lived and friends they made on treatment did not.
A chasm exists between treatment and young people successfully reengaging with social, emotional, educational and employment norms. The Trust fills that gap.
Why trips work
Trust trips deliver a challenging environment and facilitate social interaction and educational experiences, positively enhancing personal growth, motivation, confidence and independence (Roberts, 2014).
Mixing with others who have had similar experiences is key. That is why our Return to Volunteer programme - where young people supported by the Trust in recovery can come back as trip volunteers – is so important.
It is very powerful for a young person in the early stages of recovery to talk to older volunteers who understand exactly what they are going through. Seeing these volunteers who are now healthy, confident and enjoying life is aspirational.
Find out about the trips
How do young people find out about the Trust?
We work with every young person’s principal treatment centre, and a growing number of designated units, in the UK.
Young people typically learn about the Trust through our contacts in each of these hospitals or units, usually a nurse or CLIC Sargent Social Worker. They recommend who they think would be benefit from coming on a trip.
Young people can also come on a trip as a ‘self referral’. These include those who feel they were never in or are no longer part of the system. They often hear about us through other charities they are involved with or friends who have been on our trips.
If you know someone who is struggling or could do with a bit of support, however long off treatment they are, we would love to hear from them.