“It gives us hope for the future” as event celebrates kids who have beaten cancer
Former and current paediatric cancer patients came together to reunite with the doctors, nurses and therapists who treated them at a special event to mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month at St George’s this week.
The event aimed to raise awareness, celebrate those who have beaten cancer and those who are on their journey to doing so. It also meant parents and families could connect with one another and bond over their similar experiences.
Samantha Hall, mum of five-year-old Jackson who is recovering from T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, said: “It was so lovely to see families who’ve finished their treatment and to see how well their little ones are doing, it definitely gives us hope for the future.
“Thank you St George’s for being such a great hospital and to everyone who works there, you have made our journey so much easier to deal with because you’re the best team.”
One of the stars of the show at Thursday’s event was Patrick McCarthy who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in January 2019.
Patrick and his family shared a video message on his journey to thank the St George’s paediatric oncology team. Patrick is now cancer free, after having spent three years undergoing treatment from specialist teams at St George’s as well as attending the on-site hospital school, rated Outstanding by Ofsted.
Patrick said: “The school there was really fun, you meet people who have done some impossible things and the staff there really take care of you”
Patrick’s dad, Gerard, said: “I can’t even put into words what St George’s paediatric oncology team did to help us during this difficult time. The people who work at St George’s, all of them, the doctors, the nurses, the playworkers, the people in the school, the staff, all of them are just immense.”
Jacqueline Totterdell, Chief Executive of St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group gave a speech at the event and paid homage to how having a child with cancer impacts the entire family.
Speaking to Patrick’s younger sister, Jessica, Jacqueline said: “Helping a sibling that is poorly takes a lot of courage and bravery, so well done to Jessica and all the other siblings we have here this evening. Along with our amazing paediatric oncology team at St George’s, you help your brothers and sisters get through what is a difficult time”.
St George’s is home to one of the largest children’s hospitals in the country and has been rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.
The paediatric team treated a total of 136 children cancer patients in 2021 and have treated 109 from January to August this year.
Several of these patients were able to attend the event and were reunited with the doctors, nurses, playworkers, therapists and teachers who treated them at St George’s. Clinicians from the Royal Marsden also attended the event, as the two Trusts have worked together for over 20 years to provide care for children with cancer from as young as 12 months right through to 18 years old.
Natasha Alleyne, Senior Sister at St George’s, said: “It’s been an emotional and amazing event, seeing how much the kids have grown and how well they are now is wonderful as we don’t always get to see them once they’ve made a full recovery”.
The event was funded by St George’s Hospital Charity, who are helping to fundraise for facilities at St George’s to match the outstanding care provided by clinicians.
Notes to editors
St George’s University Hospital FT
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the largest healthcare provider, major teaching hospital and tertiary centre for south west London, Surrey and beyond – and one of the largest healthcare providers in the UK – serving a population of 3.5 million.
Its main site, St George’s Hospital – one of the country’s principal teaching hospitals – is shared with St George’s, University of London, which trains medical students and carries out advanced medical research.
St George’s is one of 11 adult and children major trauma centres in the UK, one of eight hyper acute stroke units and one of the biggest and busiest of the eight heart attack centres in London.
It is also an accredited centre of excellence for trauma, neurology, cardiology, cancer and blood pressure services and is the national centre for family HIV care and bone marrow transplantation for non-cancer diseases.
St George’s children’s services are rated outstanding by the CQC.
Every year St George’s treats over 130,000 children and deliver 5000 babies.
St George’s is the only hospital site in London where children with cancer can receive oncology surgery, PICU and neurosurgery as well as oncology care all on the same site with the other specialties that are required as well.