Cancer complications timebomb as teens go undiagnosed

The Child of Wales Awards is pleased to be supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is running an important campaign at the moment as youngsters with cancer symptoms are deterred from seeing their doctor amid Coronavirus response (#BestToCheck campaign).

Teenage Cancer Trust says it has learnt that in some parts of the UK, for the first time, there have been no newly diagnosed cases of cancer in teenagers and young adults as the impact of the coronavirus hits NHS services. In some places there has been a 75% fall in cancer referrals.

Even before coronavirus, some young people with suspected cancer symptoms had to visit their GPs multiple times before they were referred to a specialist. This has led to the charity launching its #BestToCheck campaign.

The campaign aims to remind young people of the common signs and symptoms of cancer, and despite the nation being on lockdown due to Coronavirus, urge them not to sit on symptoms and contact their GP.

The charity notes that cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in 13-24 year olds but with early diagnosis, lives can be saved and the risk of developing other complications is reduced.

So Teenage Cancer Trust is urging all young people to look out for the following symptoms:

  • lumps, bumps or swellings
  • unexplained tiredness
  • mole changes
  • persistent pain
  • significant weight change.

Dr Louise Soanes, Direct of Services at Teenage Cancer Trust said: “Every day around seven young people aged 13-24 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. We know that across all age groups, cancer referrals have fallen by as much as 75% during the Coronavirus pandemic, and with the anecdotal evidence we’ve gathered, we fear that many 13-24 year olds will be deterred from contacting their GP, not wanting to add pressure to the health service.

“We know that cancer can be harder to treat if it’s not diagnosed early, but young people can be slower to visit their GP with symptoms. It can also take longer for them to be referred to a specialist. That’s why putting off an appointment will make things harder for the NHS in the long term.

“My message to all teenagers and young adults is simple. Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of cancer and if you are worried, contact your GP. Don’t ignore any changes to your body that you are seeing; it can be worrying, but it’s important to get anything checked out. The health service is still very much open and wants to support you.”

Find out more about #BestToCheck:

In these challenging times, we are really proud of some of the work our partners are doing to help in the country’s fight against COVID-19 – and one of them has gone an extra mile by making a heart-warming film to show gratitude to the NHS.

The Mark Jermin Stage School has partnered with a number of other production companies including Dark Energy, Mark Jermin Management, Stage and Screen, Finger Music and Whitehouse Post to mobilise families across the country to get creative and give thanks to the NHS workers, who are putting themselves at risk to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

Supported by industry professionals, children and families from across the country worked to create and share a video message of gratitude, inspired by the burgeoning sense of community and desire to give back to healthcare workers.

Working with a team of creative professionals, children and their families shared pictures, signs, dances and cheers to a re-recorded version of Labi Siffre’s ‘It Must Be Love’. The film was pulled together entirely remotely with composers, editors and producers working from home and chatting over video conferencing software.

Mark Jermin, children’s talent manager and drama coach from Swansea, said: “We have the most amazing network of children and families across the country, so when we were asked if we wanted to get involved, through briefing them all and collating their content, we leaped at the chance to give back. We’re all so grateful for all their hard work and a lot of our students have NHS workers as parents.

“The joy and gratitude you see on screen is absolutely genuine. The kids, who were all looking to keep creating in self-isolation, loved getting involved and have such wonderful imaginations. I found it very choking seeing how inspired and genuinely grateful they all were, with parents, grandparents and even pets getting involved!”

Business partner Stuart Piper (from Stage and Screen) added: “We’re also enormously grateful to the parents and relatives of our students who are key workers and NHS Staff members, the upmost of Thank You’s for your all your incredible work, and for helping realise it all so quickly.”

A number of those involved praised the project.

Lisa Davies, mum of 9-year old Reegan who is featured throughout the film, said: “We have absolutely loved being part of this Project. This has been a really fun creative project to do whilst staying at home. Reegan has loved thinking up ideas, getting dressed up and being in front of the camera. Plus, as a Mum of two, it has made this third week in isolation go much quicker, for which I’m really grateful for!”

Daniel Nettle, Father of Grace Nettle, also featured in the video, added: “Here in South Wales we are incredibly proud of our key workers and NHS Staff who are doing a fantastic job. To be part of such a community driven film like this was a brilliant experience!”

The producers, husband and wife duo Ollie and Anna Allgrove, collaborated with Mark and his team, Stuart Piper (Stage and Screen), Finger Music, Dark Energy Films and Whitehouse Post (a world class editing company) to pull all of the user generated content together.

They secured the rights to iconic British Song “It Must be Love” and pulled each team together. They said: “We’re incredibly moved how our little idea became such a moving tribute to our brilliant NHS. We just hope that it raises awareness and funds for our key workers at this challenging time. We felt that the track ‘It Must Be Love” and its lyrics, perfectly fitted the intentions behind this love note to the NHS. We’re enormously grateful to the songwriter for giving us permission to use it.”

John Murrell, founder of Finger Music, added: “What a fantastic cause and a pleasure to help. Thank you NHS from all of us. You are the heroes!”

Whitehouse Post co-Founder and editor John Smith added: “The Whitehouse were delighted to be asked to help out for our amazing NHS…we often forget how lucky we are to have these incredible people fighting for our lives and right now more than ever in our lifetime we are truly indebted to them. God bless the NHS.”