T11 North is the paediatric oncology inpatients ward at University College London Hospital. It delivers treatment for children affected by cancer and aged from 0 up to 12 years old. We specialise in treating cancers of the bone such as Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, cancers of the brain such as Medulloblastoma, DIPG and Glioblastoma, Neuroblastoma and Hodgkin Lymphoma. All these types of cancers require very intense treatment, which is often a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical intervention. In most cases, children suffer debilitating side effects and in the case of bone cancer children can face life changing surgical interventions such as limb amputation. We are also one of the few hospitals in the country to offer radioactive treatment (MIBG) . This type of treatment takes place in highly isolated lead covered rooms where children have to remain in complete isolation due to high radioactivity levels involved in the treatment.
Children during cancer treatment experience a feeling of isolation. In a matter of days post diagnosis they find themselves stuck in a hospital room, sometimes really far away from home and having to undergo painful and traumatic medical treatment. They miss their siblings, relatives, friends and school mates. Activities that promote socialisation and distraction therefore become absolutely essential to our children’s wellbeing during treatment. The ward has an activity timetable that changes every week and which includes activities such as cooking, messy play, pizza night, movie night, games afternoon, breakfast club, beading club, storytelling and smoothie making, just to mention a few. Parties are also very popular on the ward and the children really look forward to them and greatly enjoy participating in the planning and organisation process. We organise parties for all sorts of special occasions, but the most important and significant of all are the end of treatment parties. Each patient receives an end of treatment party when they finish their very last dose of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. Each party is completely personalised and tailored to the patient and each child has the freedom to decide what food they’d like to have, what kind of entertainment, decorations, music and of course gifts and presents. Family and friends from outside the hospital can also attend, as well as nurses and doctors. It is a real celebration to mark the end of a very long, difficult and unfortunately often traumatic journey. Looking forward to their end of treatment party is very often a great source of motivation, comfort and hope for our patients.
All of these play and recreation activities are so vital for our patients because they allow children to interact with others, to make friends, to share their experiences, to talk about their feelings and emotions and to even share a laugh. They support and encourage self-confidence and they give our patients a precious break and distraction from their very invasive and traumatic medical treatment.
Unfortunately our ward at present does not receive any money or budget to support play and social activities. Especially in the last few months, it has become more and more difficult to be able to access any source of funding and we have been forced to make cuts and to stop some of these beloved activities.
In an attempt to be able to raise funds to support play and recreation on the ward, we have created a charitable fund which our children have decided to call the “T11 North Fun Fund”. This fund is completely and solely utilised to fund play resources and recreation activities for our cancer patients who are receiving lifesaving cancer treatment on our ward. The money donated on the fund is used to purchase arts and crafts resources, play equipment, sensory resources and to fund social and recreational activities, parties and tickets to trips and days out for our patients.
All children have the right to play and to still be able to smile and have fun, even more so when stuck in hospital receiving life changing medical treatment. With your help we can keep our children smiling!
"Play keeps children vital and alive. It gives them an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable!" L. Capocchione