September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is using it to highlight the loneliness and isolation young people experience during and after their treatment.
Trust trips support young people in developing confidence through learning new skills, making friends, talking to others who have been through similar experiences, pushing physical boundaries, rediscovering their independence and no longer feeling alone.
As many as 83% of young people going through cancer treatment report feeling lonely. Often, the people in their lives do not understand what they are going through. Treatment can be made so much worse when no one around you is able to relate.
The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that supports young people aged 8-24 to rebuild their confidence after cancer. When treatment ends the Trust’s work begins because for many young people simply picking up where they left off before their diagnosis just isn’t possible.
The after-effects of a cancer diagnosis are not just physical: young people often see their school lives disrupted, a change in their social situation, and a significant loss of confidence.
Being able to open up and share their feelings with others helps young people feel less alone and more accepted. Emmie Smith (pictured above), a 17-year-old from Woking who set sail with the Trust on the Isle of Wight, said about her recovery from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia:
“I feel that I’ve been waiting for so long just to talk to someone similar and I feel like coming here all my worries have just drifted away which really helps. I’d been a bit angry wondering, am I ever going to lift up somewhere, and coming here and talking to other people I just feel like this massive heavy weight has just fallen away.”
Keep an eye on the Trust’s social media across the month to hear from young people who have sailed with the charity about their experiences with loneliness and isolation during their recovery.
Earlier this summer the Trust launched the #Unspoken project to give young people the space to share what they struggle to discuss outside of their trips. The Trust would like to invite young people to get involved in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by using the #Unspoken hashtag on social media, joining the conversation and sharing their stories to help raise awareness.