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On Tuesday October 29th we held a special event to recognise the journey and achievements of children and young people impacted by cancer.


Over 100 children and young people age 8-24 who have been diagnosed with cancer or have a sibling or parent with cancer attended our inaugural ‘Celebrating YOUth’ event which took place in the New City Life Church, Belfast.

The young people were joined by 200 family members and friends as they shared uplifting stories, images and performances about the impact cancer has had on their young lives and the difference support from Cancer Fund for Children has made.

Bernadette Hagans (23) from Belfast was one of the young people who hosted this inspirational event.  Bernadette who is currently starring in MTV’s ‘True Love or True Lives’ was diagnosed with a sarcoma in September 2018 and had to have her lower right leg amputated.  Speaking about her experience Bernadette said.

Bernadette Hagans

“Getting diagnosed with cancer made me appreciate my life a lot. It made me realise how lucky I am to be alive and that I was being given a chance at survival. After losing my leg I wanted to see how much I could achieve in a year. I’ve managed to do so many amazing things but one of my best memories was my time at Daisy Lodge. Thanks to Cancer Fund for Children I’ve had the opportunity to get to know other young people who have had cancer.  We relaxed, took part in workshops and took the time to understand each other.

This time last year I was an extremely shy person.  I never would have thought I’d be hosting an event like this and it makes me extremely proud to know I’m doing it!  I would say to other young people experiencing cancer to keep a positive mind set because this will help you get through whatever it is you are facing. Not every cancer story has to become a sad story, use what is happening to you or has happened to you to take back control of your life and try to stay positive.”

Lizzie Gilmore (24) from Coleraine was supported by Cancer Fund for Children when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in in July 2018.  During the event Lizzie launched her children’s book ‘The Adventures of Stanley’ which she has written to help children going through cancer treatment and have to have a central line fitted.  Speaking about the idea behind her book Lizzie said,

“I wrote ‘The Adventures of Stanley’, never thinking anyone would read it, after wondering how scary it must seem to a child to have a

Lizzie Gilmore

central lined fitted. I was 24 when I experienced this and I was terrified! I hope my books helps children receiving treatment to better understand this process and to make it seem a little less daunting.”

Every year we provides practical and emotional support, as well as therapeutic short breaks to over 500 children and young people impacted by cancer.  Speaking about the charity’s inaugural ‘Celebrating YOUth’ event Neil Symington, Community Services Manager said,

“2019 has been a significant year for Cancer Fund for Children. We are continuing to support more and more young people and their families and are doing so in a much more focused manner. As well as providing ongoing individual support, we have delivered a whole range of programmes, events and initiatives to connect, empower and engage children and young people impacted by cancer.

As well as our own programmes we have worked with organisations including the Teenage Cancer Trust, Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, Crescent Arts Centre, CLIC Sargent, Friends of the Cancer Centre and Children’s Cancer Unit Charity to ensure children and young people impacted by cancer in Northern Ireland have more opportunities open to them and are receiving the best support possible.

2019 has been a year of personal growth, amazing personal achievements, meaningful discussion and a sense of togetherness.  Through our inaugural ‘Celebrating YOUth’ event we want to celebrate the unique talents of children and young people living with cancer and allows their parents and wider families to share in their successes”

We  are currently engaging young people impacted by cancer and their families to ensure their needs are taken into consideration in the development of  the new cancer strategy for Northern Ireland.  If you would like to get involved and ‘Tell it like it is’ find out more here.

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