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11 September 2013

Construction of first teenage cancer unit in the south west is well under way

Former young cancer patients along with Teenage Cancer Trust ambassadors and world snooker players Judd Trump and Jack Lisowksi, were invited to the construction site at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre today, to see how the first specialist cancer unit for young patients from the South West is progressing. 

In May, Teenage Cancer Trust unveiled designs for a £2.5million state-of-the-art unit. The new unit means for the first time young people aged 16 to 24 from Bristol, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, will be treated with others their own age in an environment suited to their needs. Every day in the UK, seven young people are told they have cancer and over 200 are diagnosed across the South West every year. 

The Teenage Cancer Trust funded Bristol unit is being built over two floors with one floor dedicated to inpatients featuring five en-suite rooms, a social area full of gaming and entertainment equipment, quiet room, TV room, kitchen and dining space. The other floor will be for day patients, featuring three treatment pods, two consulting rooms, a procedure room, social space, waiting area with cafe and staff office. 

Guests were given an exclusive site tour where builders have completed the external extension to the BHOC and are now creating internal partitions and doing first fix electrics and mechanics. Construction is on schedule to finish in early 2014. The charity also announced that the Bristol unit fundraising appeal has raised a further £250,000 and £750,000 now needs to be raised. Teenage Cancer Trust is asking local communities across the South West to take part in its '£1,000 Challenge'. The charity is calling on 750 individuals, groups, schools and communities to rise to the challenge and raise £1,000 each to reach the £750,000 fundraising goal. 

Laura Scowen, Teenage Cancer Trust fundraiser, said: "Today is an exciting moment for us. We have spent a long time fundraising for this unit and to see it coming to life is a testament to everyone's hard work. We have already raised £1.75 million but there is still a long way to go so that's why we are appealing to the public to really get behind our £1,000 Challenge." 

World snooker players Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski also visited the site for the first time. Teenage Cancer Trust is a charity close to their hearts as Cheltenham born Jack, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma at 16. Bristol born Judd said: "Jack has told me how hard it was dealing with cancer as a teenager. Knowing that he didn't benefit from being treated with other people the same age and in a place that was full of stuff you like as a teenager must have made it even worse. That's why it's so important this unit is finished and the public get behind the appeal." 

Dr Alison Cameron, Macmillan Teenage and Young Adults Lead Clinician at the BHOC, said: "Within the South West we have an effective, integrated multidisciplinary Teenage and Young Adults team who help support TYA patients who have cancer. These facilities will complement this team, enhancing the care they provide and making a major difference to the patient's cancer journey. In short we will now be able to provide patients with a world class service." 

The unit build will mark the final phase in a multi-million pound investment the charity is making in young people's cancer services across the South West. For the first time in Teenage Cancer Trust's history, the charity lent its design expertise to enhance a brand new hospital ward for 11 to 16 year olds with a variety of complex health issues which included cancer. The home-from-home themed ward opened in Bristol Royal Hospital for Children in December 2012 and is unlike any other ward in the hospital. 

Teenage Cancer Trust also funds a teenage and young adult lead nurse who is responsible for developing and providing excellent clinical care, as well as complementing existing services for young people and their families and a youth support coordinator. 

The youth support coordinator helps young people share their experiences and fears with each other, encourages them to socialise by arranging activities and outings and runs a peer support group. The charity has also adopted teenage and young adult specialist nurses who operate from 6 designated network care hospitals across the South West. By doing so this provides an excellent model of care for 15-24 year olds no matter where they live in the region.

Once opened, the Teenage Cancer Trust funded Bristol unit will complement the existing 27 units the charity has already built in NHS hospitals across the UK since 1990. Teenage Cancer Trust plan to build a further five so that all young people needing hospital treatment for cancer have access to the dedicated, specialist support they provide.