Cancer Doesn’t Have To Change Who You Are

 In News, Ward Support

“Cancer doesn’t have to change who you are”


This is Hendrikje’s story, as told by her Cancer Fund for Children Ward Support Specialist Helen. Hendrikje has received support on the hospital ward from Helen during her cancer treatment.

When a teenager or young adult is going through treatment, it can often be a very isolating time. Frequently they are treated alongside much older patients on the adult ward, or those a lot of younger on the children’s ward, meaning they lack the opportunity to connect with others of a similar age.

Our Ward Support Specialist’s role is to help support these young people, discuss some of the challenges they are facing and provide them with the chance to share their experiences with others who know what they are going through.

Helen said: 

“Hendrikje is an extremely bright and talented 14 year old who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I have had the joy of getting to know her and her family as they have journeyed the initial stages of diagnosis and treatment on the Children’s Ward at Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

“Hendrikje has an incredibly fun spirit so was keen to get stuck into some creative projects; we painted a vibrant canvas which represented her personality and as we were doing this, we reflected that having cancer doesn’t have to change who you are.

“This canvas became a backdrop to a poloaoid photo project, documenting Hendrikje’s time on the ward. We had a lot of fun taking pictures, dressing up and getting the doctors and nurses involved.

“Being invited into the life-space of a young person and their family, sharing their highs and lows and getting to know them is really humbling and rewarding.”


Speaking about Helen’s support, Hendrikje said:

“I really enjoyed Helen’s visits to the ward. I enjoyed painting the canvas and talking, it really gave me something to do and to think about other than my chemo, medicines and doctors”.

Find out more about how we support young people with cancer here.


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