Heavy Metal Truants Visit Teenage Cancer Trust
The University College Hospital London Cancer Centre is housed in one of those new concrete, glass and steel buildings now appearing in the shadow of the towering University College Hospital London on the Euston Road, as the old Victorian brickwork buildings of yesteryear are given a long overdue makeover.
It is in this impressive new building that the Teenage Cancer Trust’s London hub is situated, where a group of the Heavy Metal Truants committee visited this week for an open evening in which the charity showed existing fundraisers and potential new fundraisers, some of the work they do.
The third floor hub treats 13-24 year olds and boasts eight treatment pods where their chemotherapy can be administered. Over the 12 units the TCT manage around the country, they treat 270 young people every year. Some of these are long term patients from the hospital wards, others are day patients, many coming in from school, university or work. Some have even taken their school exams during the process. Not all are restricted to treatment in the hub. Some are able to walk the streets freely, their chemo administered from innocuous looking backpacks. The fact the Trust go out their way to find the least intrusive manner in which to administer the medication was paramount.
Indeed everything we saw was so strongly geared towards making the patients feel as normal as they possibly can. To that end, there is a small gym, for rehabilitative process rather than for getting fit, quiet areas, a music therapy room boasting a Dj booth (we listened, but didn’t hear any Iron Maiden!), a games area featuring pool table, table tennis and table football and banks of computers replete with the all important wi-fi, whilst reminders of youthful creativity adorned the walls.
The Teenage Cancer Trust provides all this, as well as funding a nurse consultant, a youth support coordinator, a clinical nurse specialist and an advance nurse practitioner (in funding partnership with UCLH). It costs £12,000 per year simply to maintain each of the 12 units around the country. The London hub is there to treat the whole of London and Essex.
The serious ramifications of what goes on here were rammed home when we spotted on the Macmillan floor below, adults in the process of receiving their chemo treatment. Naturally, there were no children being treated as we were shown around the ward, but we did, among some of the talks we were given by TCT staff and nurses, hear from a cancer survivor who had been treated at the hub. Diagnosed in her first year at University, she gave a wonderfully eloquent and stridently moving speech about her treatment and recovery there that left no one in any doubt of the exemplary work the Teenage Cancer Trust do.
The fact that they still need money to see out their impressive future plans was also more than evident. A strong and powerful reminder of one of the reasons why we take to our bikes and cycle for two and half days. If you ever needed the inspiration to get you up some of those nasty hills that await in 2018, thinking about what goes on here will undoubtedly provide you with all you need..