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The arts playing pivotal role in getting young cancer patients through lockdown

Last updated: 27/11/2020

Young cancer patients in Bristol have been using movie re-enactments and poetry to escape the challenging reality of their cancer treatment during lockdown.

Teenage Cancer Trust’s youth support coordinator Hannah Lind has been using the arts to bring the 16 to 24-year-olds that she supports together, keeping them connected with her, and with each other throughout the pandemic.

Young people with cancer are feeling more isolated than ever before and Hannah, who supports teenagers and young adults at Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, has come up with creative ways to stay in touch - the gourmet bean challenge, the covid ditty and #quarantscenes challenge, art classes and heart-warming poetry experiences.

Hannah Lind with portrait made by Chrissy Cruickshank
Hannah Lind with portrait made
by Chrissy Cruickshank

Hannah Lind, Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, said:

“Coronavirus has been a challenging time for everyone but for young people with cancer, it has been particularly tough.

“These sessions are a lot of fun but behind that, they play an important role. They keep peer-to-peer support going at a time when all face-to-face group support can’t. It’s a way of connecting young people whilst also being able to spot, from the side-lines, whether they are showing any signs of needing additional support.

“Coronavirus has presented many challenges, but some creative and engaging support sessions have been born as a result. Even after the pandemic, I am sure they will remain in place allowing us to reach more and more young people with cancer.”

Liveta, (22) who was diagnosed with breast cancer, worked with other young cancer patients, Teenage Cancer Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust’s poet in residence, Beth Calverley to create the poem ‘The Toughest Shield.’

She said: “Living through a pandemic whilst going through cancer as well is a challenging thing to do to say the least.

“The poem that Beth got us involved in is beautiful and speaks the truth for everyone that is going through illness during the pandemic. The description that this is the toughest shield is true. It is.  The poem beautifully wraps up the emotions we are going through throughout this. The poem was really appreciated by many of us in the young people’s cancer community. It really made me feel much better and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone.”

Claire Lewis-Norman, Teenage and Young Adult specialist nurse, said:

“Throughout the pandemic, Teenage Cancer Trust’s youth support coordinators like Hannah have led the way when it comes to digitalising peer-to-peer support. It has increased patient engagement and enabled them to continue getting young people through some of the toughest time of their lives.

“Coronavirus is unpredictable, but Hannah provides much needed support and stability for the teenagers and young adults she cares for and I can’t thank her enough for it.”