Christmas is a special time for families. That one time in the year when life winds down and loved ones come together.
But for some families dealing with the effects of childhood cancer, Christmas can take on a whole new meaning.
This Christmas, we’re following families at three different stages of their childhood cancer journey as they navigate the holiday period. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram throughout December to keep up-to-date.
Spending Christmas in hospital while your child is receiving treatment can be incredibly isolating. Your contrasting situation with other ‘normal’ families made all the starker. It’s often at this sensitive time of year, that families look towards a future festive period that’s hospital, chemo and cancer free.
Because of Lily’s condition, we find it very hard to think about Christmas or make any plans. We don’t know what Lily’s health will be like, whether we’ll be in a hospital room, or celebrating with family. Cancer consumes everything in your life. Anything that should be normal is taken over by worry and grief.
Lianna, Lily’s mum.
Lily was diagnosed with a brain tumour that stems from the Optic Pathway when she was one, causing her visual impairment. She is now facing a further year of treatment and her family look forward to the day they can celebrate a Chemo Free Christmas.
In December, we’ll be sharing stories of more children and their experiences of chemotherapy at Christmas.Read more of Lily's story
Spent as a family, the first Christmas after treatment can mark the end of a long and painful journey. A celebration of how far they’ve come and how precious life is.
In December, we’ll be sharing Mia’s story. Mia is ringing the End of Treatment Bell on the 17 December, meaning this will be her first Chemo Free Christmas.
Watch this space for the video.
For those celebrating multiple years’ chemo free, Christmas may begin to feel the same as before. But the effects of cancer linger, both physically, mentally and emotionally. Because chemo free doesn’t always mean that everything is back to normal.
Very quickly after treatment ends, the support systems we had relied on seemed to vanish. The message was clear: Vega is better. You are normal. Everything is normal. Go back to normal. But the impact of cancer on a family is not only felt whilst a child is receiving treatment – it lingers for many more years afterwards.
Kathi, Vega’s mum.
Vega finished treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in 2013.
Read Kathi's blog
to give children with cancer the opportunity to enjoy the magic of Christmas with their families.
of spending Christmas with a child affected by cancer by tagging us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and using #ChemoFreeChristmas.
to support our cause.
Because it’s not a chemo-free Christmas for every child, we fund homes near hospitals for families affected by childhood cancer.
Children with Cancer UK has put £8.3 million towards maintaining and building homes like the Paul O’Gorman Patient Hotel.
Find out more about the accommodation at Christmas time in this video.