07 May 2013
Children diagnosed with cancer and their families are being helped by the appointment of a specialist paediatric oncology nurse.
Funding for three years comes from the Antoine Trust, a charity set up by local couple Paul and Anne Willing whose son Antoine died aged seven in 2012, two years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The specialist post will provide support for families throughout a child’s cancer treatment.
Around 12 or 13 children and young people from Jersey undergo treatment for cancer in the UK at any one time, mainly at Southampton Hospital, but also at London hospitals, as well as Bristol and Birmingham.
The specialist nurse in the post is Therese McGrath, who is based on Robin ward at the General Hospital. Therese co-ordinates care for children and young people with cancer, and their families, between the hospital in Jersey, the community and any UK hospitals where the child needs to receive treatment.
Working closely with children and families affected by cancer
Therese said "Having always had a keen interest in paediatric oncology, I am now delighted to expand on my previous role as oncology link nurse for Robin ward, and have this opportunity to be able to work more closely with all children, young people, and their families affected by cancer, in Jersey. It is a traumatic time for families to firstly receive a diagnosis of cancer and then also to have to be parted from their family and friends in order to travel to the UK for long periods of time. This is a very frightening and uncertain time for everyone.
"As the paediatric oncology nurse, I can now offer these families the continuous and consistent ongoing support, guidance and information that they need to help them through this more easily. This is an essential aspect of care that all families require and deserve, and I'd like to offer a huge thanks to Antoine and his family for making this possible. Their kindness, bravery and dedication in setting up the Antoine Trust will serve only to enrich and improve on the care and support we can now offer to all families in Jersey affected by cancer. I had the pleasure and privilege to meet and care for Antoine during his treatment. He was clever, funny and just gorgeous, and so I hope to make him proud and do my best in this role."
Generous donations support post on paediatric oncology team
Mrs Willing said “The trustees of the Antoine Trust are delighted with the appointment of Therese McGrath as a valuable member of the paediatric oncology team. Therese brings an abundance of knowledge and experience that, I am sure, will be truly appreciated by the children and parents alike, during the course of their cancer treatment. We wish her every success in her new role. The trustees are also very grateful to all the individuals concerned, at Health and Social Services, who listened to and worked with them, over the last few months, to take this project from an idea to reality.
"Last but definitely not least, we are enormously grateful to all the people and corporations who have so generously donated funds to this project, and are continuing to do so. Without their support, our idea may have struggled to come to life. When we set up the Antoine Trust nine months ago, we were hoping to raise public awareness of the difficulties of dealing with children with cancer. We had not however anticipated that the response to our appeal would be quite so overwhelming! Antoine would have been so very proud of what has been achieved in his name.”
Families can concentrate on their child
Elaine Torrance, head of care for women and children at Health and Social Services said "We are very grateful to the trustees of the Antoine Trust, and particularly to Anne and Paul Willing for their support of this post, for three years, which we hope will make things a little bit easier for families whose child is diagnosed with cancer. We know how hard it is for families to go through this, and as treatment is often based in the UK for local families, having a dedicated and experienced co-ordinator can be a real relief, meaning that the families of those children with cancer can concentrate only on their child.
"Therese, already a valued member of the Robin ward team, is enjoying her new role as paediatric oncology nurse specialist, and working with families, young patients and all her colleagues, to offer everyone a smooth journey regarding treatment and any questions families may have."