Teenage Cancer Trust ambassador Joe McElderry officially opened today the Teenage Cancer Trust’s new state-of-the-art unit at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.

Speaking at the event, Joe said: “Teenage Cancer Trust is an absolutely amazing charity. These units feel like home and really help to boost morale for the young people being treated here. Not only do they look great, but there is a real family atmosphere in the charity and I love that! I’m so proud to have been asked to open this spectacular new unit today and have thoroughly enjoyed looking around and meeting the inspiring young people that are already benefiting from this great service.”

The £220,000 unit opened to patients earlier this year and will provide care for 18 to 24 year olds with cancer from across the North East and Cumbria. It complements the charity’s existing unit at the Great North Children’s hospital for 13-19 year olds. Young people aged 13-24 diagnosed with cancer in the North East now have access to specialist services.

The new unit in Newcastle includes seven inpatient beds and will provide a home from home for many young people and their families. Unlike ‘ordinary’ hospital wards, it has a kitchen, pool table and a recreational area including a digital jukebox and access to media facilities such as the internet, TV and music. The charity has also provided a further en-suite room on Ward 33 for patients who are in isolation after receiving a bone marrow transplant.

The new unit will bring young people together to be treated by teenage cancer experts in an environment tailored to their needs. Designed to feel like a home from home, the walls are bright, each room is individually styled, the furniture is funky and there’s always a place to watch films and surf the net. Combined with specialist nursing staff, the unit has everything to make a young person’s stay in hospital comfortable.

Dave Shaw, Deputy Director of Services at Teenage Cancer Trust, “We are incredibly excited to see the unit up and running and are confident that our patients, their families and unit staff will benefit from the specialist support and care it provides. I would like to say a huge thank you to the Hospital and to everyone who has been involved in supporting Teenage Cancer Trust locally over the last few years.”

The state-of-the-art unit is a result of years of determined fundraising by Teenage Cancer Trust and supporters. Matthew and Hilary Engel lost their 13 year old son Laurie to a rare and aggressive cancer in 2005. Since then the family have raised over £1.1million for Teenage Cancer Trust, and have kindly donated over £160,000 to this new unit in Newcastle. Their tireless fundraising has ensured that young people across the country are treated in an environment suited to their age.

Special thanks and recognition goes to Argos and Homebase for their financial contribution towards this unit build. Teenage Cancer Trust is the official charity partner of Argos and Homebase until February 2013. In less than two years of the partnership customers and colleagues across the UK and Republic of Ireland have raised over £3 million. Proceeds will go towards the construction and maintenance of 22 Teenage Cancer Trust units across 20 towns and cities in the UK and Ireland.

Help a Capital Child have been supporting Teenage Cancer Trust since 2011. They are funding Teenage Cancer Trust units and staff at hospitals across the UK, to provide specialist care and support for young people with cancer around the country.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Executive said: “This is a tremendous boost in providing support and facilities for young people. The contribution is much appreciated by everyone.”

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for the six young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day. We build specialist units within NHS hospitals bringing young people together to be treated by teenage cancer experts in a place designed just for them. We want every young person with cancer to have access to this specialist support, no matter where they live.

Traditionally treated alongside children or elderly patients at the end of their lives, young people can feel extremely isolated during treatment, some never meeting another young person with cancer. Being treated alongside others their own age can make a huge difference to their whole experience.

Teenage Cancer Trust also educates young people and health professionals about cancer to ensure a swift diagnosis and referral to specialist support. Cancer in young people is rare but we want young people to know the common signs and symptoms so they can seek medical advice if they are worried.

Donations are still needed for the upkeep of Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit and to provide services in the region. For more information about Teenage Cancer Trust and how you can get involved, visit www.teenagecancertrust.org

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