Every day in the UK, 12 children and young people will receive the devastating news that they have cancer.
We are proud to share that we are working with a wonderful charity, whose mission is to support families in Sussex through their cancer journeys. The Wolo Foundation is a charity founded by Fler and Justin Wright who experienced first-hand the challenges that families face when Fler was diagnosed in 2018.
It is likely, statistically, that every person reading this blog has experienced the devastating news that they or someone close to them has been diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis and prognosis of this disease is wide and varied but is nevertheless life-changing to most who receive it.
This month is National Cancer Survivors Month. It is the most sobering of thoughts to pause for a moment and consider the devastating impact this disease has on a child’s life and yet we (at The Youth Fairy) have seen the courage and resilience that the children we work with muster up when they or a family member is faced with a diagnosis and treatment.
When a family receive the diagnosis of cancer it has implications for the whole family – treatment, hospital stays, tests, side-effects – families often having to spend much time travelling or even living apart.
After experiencing a cancer journey of their own, Fler and Justin highlighted a number of problems they incurred along the way that they felt Wolo could help address.
- Lack of support for those diagnosed
- Lack of support for the families of those diagnosed
- Lack of practical help
- Lack of mental health support
- The detrimental financial impact of a cancer diagnosis
- Lack of support once active treatment is completed – people struggling to ‘move on’.
- The stigma associated with cancer
- Having a negative outlook on life
Wolo help families by understanding their needs – they understand that every family, and every member within a family, are completely different and have developed a Holistic Family Assessment to help identify how Wolo can best support them.
One area of support Wolo provide is Mental Health Support and we, The Youth Fairy, are one of organisations that they have partnered with to provide one to one therapy for children affected by cancer – this may be their own diagnosis or a diagnosis for parents or siblings. We sadly cannot change the diagnosis or the rigors of the treatment, but can help them feel more relaxed, in control of their emotions and coping better through the challenging times.
The Youth Fairy’s ‘solution focused’ approach helps young people dealing with cancer understand how and why they are feeling the way they are and to manage their emotions more easily throughout the journey. We support them to feel more relaxed and continue to appreciate the good things within their lives that can easily become overshadowed by the uncertainty and anxiety they may be feeling or the stress that the family unit may be under.
We help them to identify the small steps they can take to regain a sense of control in a time when most things are feeling out of their control and what they might be doing differently if they were feeling a little happier and coping that little bit better. Perhaps drawing their sibling a lovely picture to look at during their treatment, creating a playlist of their favourite songs, planning a trip for a day when the family are able to spend a day together, or having a family movie night, cuddling up and watching a film together.
Despite their challenges we help them to continue to find ways of engaging in positive activities and interactions, however small, which encourages the production of serotonin and feel-good endorphins which are essential for our wellbeing.
We know that our brains do not know the difference between the imagined and reality and so when we encourage children to imagine their preferred future (whether that be tomorrow, next week or further ahead) the subconscious part of their brain begins to work on and rehearse these changes – helping them to figure out what they can do more or less of to cope better. Of course, the long term preferred future is likely to be a future without cancer, but we help young people focus on the here and now, getting through the next day, week or month more easily.
Some days it’s the small things that make the big difference.
“It has been such a relief today just to text you & look at your website. It has given me a bit of a lift. All those little bits like the cushion & the tip about shirts with buttons would not even have crossed my mind.” Wolo testimony
We only live once. #wolo
For more information, to donate or for opportunities to find out how you can help please go to the Wolo website www.wolofoundation.org