We all had dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up. But for many children who survive cancer, life doesn’t return to normal when treatment ends.
The toxic treatments can take their toll and cause lifelong side effects – mobility issues, loss of sight or hearing, cognitive impairments, infertility.
Three years of being immersed in hospital life, exposed to traumatic procedures, gruelling treatment, day after day spent in isolation; you’d be forgiven for feeling scared of hospitals, of doctors and nurses. Yet when asked what she wants to be when she’s older, Suki replies “a doctor.” The kindness, care and compassion shown by every single person we have come into contact with throughout her treatment is the reason Suki feels this way. These people, from consultants to cleaners, nurses to play staff and everyone in between are such incredibly special human beings. People who, every single time we’ve needed them, have been there for us. So often going above and beyond in everything they do. They really are amazing. I’m not sure whether Suki really will pursue a career in medicine. She’s a very creative and caring girl and may follow a different path entirely. One thing is certain, we’ll be proud to support her in whatever she dreams of doing.Read Suki's story
The side effects have been really tough for Sophia. She has a persistent tremor in her hands and she suffered a seizure from one of her treatments. We just do what we can do every day. Sophia is so resilient. She takes a lot of things in her stride so we just hope that those start to improve, the further we get away from treatment. I first heard of Children with Cancer UK on the ward. It was probably one of the many sleepless nights that I had where I stayed up searching about different treatments and I came across the charity and all the amazing work that they do in terms of finding better, kinder treatments for children. We actually went on the UKALL2011 trial that’s pioneered by the charity which helps produce more effective treatment for children like Sophia.Read Sophia's story
“ When I was a child, I wanted to be an Olympic Swimmer! But as an adult I graduated from Kings College London in July 2020, and started work as a Doctor this Summer.”
Childhood cancer did shape my life. I have had numerous hospital visits and check-ups over the years and in this time I have been fascinated to learn about my diagnosis. This definitely made me interested in sciences and problem-solving; I really enjoyed Maths and Chemistry at school. This inspired me to study Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Exeter. Here, I continued to do work experience in hospital and realised I would really like to be a Doctor, and work with people and patients to deliver the best possible care. Therefore, I attended Kings College London and studied Medicine.
“I would like to be a historian when I grow up.”
He made this as one of his subject choices for his GCSE’s and hopes to take it to A level as well. It is so hard to think ‘beyond’ and into the future. So many have said, since we had the first NED 10 years ago, “well, it’s all done now, it’s gone, forget it, move on,” but that is so very hard in reality, especially if there are still multiple follow ups in place. Harry certainly wouldn’t be Harry without him having lived his journey though. Cancer doesn’t ‘define’ him, yes, it is on his medical record and this inhibits things such as medical insurance without enormous premiums and even if you want to claim for anything, they’ll always find something to potentially link it to his previous cancer and not cover it anyway (we’ve already been through this and had it happen). Harry wants to go back to NZ when he’s older and I worry about healthcare outside of our wonderful NHS, medication costs and specialist treatments. He tries so very hard to do the very best that he can do, despite the long term side effects such as chemo brain, and that is all that we ask of him, and he does this with energy, enthusiasm and resilience.
Losing my hearing during chemotherapy did indeed shape my life to a huge extent. It wasn’t the cancer itself but the after effects caused by it. I have risen to the challenge however. Childhood cancer did in a way shape my life.Read Darren's story
Though I have had the occasional medical side effect from the chemotherapy treatment that treats the cancer growing up, I would say it has been more influential on me psychologically and as a person. I have faced the cosmetic complications of weakened teeth (many have broken) and too many unable to grow fully. Then there was the removal of my tonsils and two growths from the chest. Both cases potentially cancerous years after treatment, but fortunately benign. In terms of shaping me as an individual, the experience of having Cancer has led me being used to going in and out of hospitals all through life. Memories remembered or captured on film or camera are dominated with chbyildhood without any hair, transparent skin, surrounded by family trying to keep a brave face. But I think the biggest long term side effect, which I appreciate, is empathy. I understand and relate to others going through cancer and want to help.Read Christopher's story
I do think that childhood cancer and the long term side effects will shape Bella’s life. She’s going to have to be cautious in the sun as she’s at a high chance of developing skin cancer – which means year round sun block. Her infertility is going to be a massive thing for her to adapt to. Her experience has altogether shaped her. Her anxieties can be extreme – she’s so afraid of dying now it’s heart breaking.Read Bella-Rose's story