Being a teenager can be difficult enough, but imagine being told you also have cancer to contend with.
Around one hundred 16 to 24 year-olds are currently receiving treatment and support from Royal Surrey County Hospital’s dedicated Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Service (TYAC).
Budding lawyer Sam Exworth was introduced to the service four years ago and was delighted to learn that it had recently been named Guildford Spectrum’s Charity of 2016.
The 22-year-old from Woking, Surrey, was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma in May 2010 and continues to receive on-going care and support.
“I have received treatment on a number of adult wards and they can be quite a scary place to be for a teenager,” said Sam, who is currently studying at Surrey University.
“In contrast TYAC is a bright and fun place to come, with amazing staff. It really is like one big family.”
Sam is now cancer free but has been left with a number of side effects, which have seen him needing a hip and shoulder replacement as well as treatment for kidney failure.
Sam, who also volunteers at TYAC, added: “From a personal perspective, TYAC offers somewhere local that I can come if I need anything checking.
“When you have had cancer any cough or cold can leave you worrying that it has come back.
“TYAC also has a fantastic social side to it and that is really important both during your treatment and after it has finished.
“While receiving treatment it is incredibly reassuring to be able to talk someone who has been there and understands what you are going through.
“You often find that your friends don’t know what to say, so don’t say anything at all, and their lives move on.
“After it also helps with survivorship, as you can feel very lonely and suffer with a lack of self-confidence.
“TYAC is there to help you get back into life and meet new people. In my case I have made some of my very best friends through TYAC.
“It is fantastic that Spectrum have chosen TYAC as its charity of the year. The activities and experiences will make such a difference.”
As the Guildford Spectrum Charity of the Year 2016, Royal Surrey will be given activity tickets that can be exchanged for a wide variety of leisure facilities including swimming sessions, use of the gym, sports hall activities, group exercise classes and ten pin bowling. The activity tickets are generated through the generosity of Spectrum’s customers who donate their loyalty card points to the cause.
Claire Palles-Clark, a Macmillan Clinical nurse specialist for TYAC, said: “These activities will support the growing evidence that shows exercise helps improve levels of fatigue both during and after chemotherapy.
“Any group activity also boosts self-confidence and encourages a return to regular socialisation, which has often been disrupted due to treatment and its side effects.”
“We are delighted to be supporting the Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity this year and look forward to welcoming local teenagers and adults affected by Cancer to Spectrum, thanks to the generosity of our members,” said Steve May, from Spectrum’s operator Freedom Leisure.
“Our Charity of the Year programme has grown in stature year-on-year and we know that it makes a real difference to people by offering additional leisure and social activities for them to enjoy.”