For most children when asked, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’, the list of possibilities is endless. For children diagnosed with cancer, their aspirations are no less great and why should they be?
This is the question Friends of Rosie posed to the children attending this year’s Ward 84 summer party. The annual event, held at Manchester’s Victoria Baths, is organised by a dedicated group of parents, friends, family, and staff from Ward 84 – the children’s oncology ward at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
When I grow up …
Some of the Friends of Rosie team and volunteers attended the event and provided a huge fabric banner and coloured pens and let the children’s imaginations go wild as they thought about their ideal future. Kenzie, aged 12, wrote, “All I have is poison in the blood and when I grow up, I want to be a nurse to help others like me”. Samuel, aged 8, aspires to follow in the footsteps of the Apollo 11 crew and be an astronaut and Jack, also aged 8, sees himself as a Youtube star. Perhaps one of the most poignant messages was written by the sister of a young girl who is currently being treated for osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, simply writing, “I wish to help the world”.
1,900 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK. That’s around five children each day. Thanks to research, survival rates are improving but there is still much to be done and to discover. But what these statistics don’t show is the cost of survival. What quality of life are children with cancer left with after treatment? The statistics may show them as cancer survivors, but many will have devastating, long-term effects from harsh treatments.
Hopes for the future
Says Friends of Rosie communications manager, Helen Griffin, “We were very grateful to be invited to this amazing event and to spend time with the children talking about their hopes for the future. Childhood cancer is thankfully rare, but unlike adults diagnosed with the disease, these children are right at the start of their lives and should be given every possible chance of a bright future to experience all that life has to offer.”
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and we will be using the internationally recognised month to continue to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. Our focus is on kick-starting new ideas for gentler, more effective treatments with fewer side effects in later life.