The chance for families to get away and go on a holiday
EVERY day in the UK 10 families are told the devastating news that their child has cancer or leukaemia. Suddenly their lives are thrown into total turmoil. They often have to travel many miles to their nearest specialist treatment centre. Parents, natur
EVERY day in the UK 10 families are told the devastating news that their child has cancer or leukaemia.
Suddenly their lives are thrown into total turmoil. They often have to travel many miles to their nearest specialist treatment centre.
Parents, naturally, want to be at their child's bedside, so often they are forced to take time off work which obviously affects their income.
Almost overnight, the family is torn apart as one parent stays at the hospital leaving the rest of the family back at home to pick up the pieces.
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Treatment for cancer can span months, sometimes even years, putting the whole family under a great deal of pressure.
That's why CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading children's cancer charity, offers families the chance to get away from it all on a free CLIC Sargent holiday.
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One father who has been on a CLIC Sargent holiday knows just how important a break can be: "When your child has cancer you feel like the rest of the world should come to a standstill, but as I found out, it doesn't, and it can be very hard to keep up.
"I was told my 11 year old son had leukaemia on Christmas Eve 2004. Not
coping was not an option and so somehow we found a way to deal with it."
His son underwent an extensive period of treatment which included long stays in hospital and much time away from the rest of his family.
The father continued: "The first year of my son's treatment was very difficult. The prospect of a holiday didn't even cross my mind although in retrospect we probably needed one more than most."
A CLIC Sargent Social worker, who will be supporting the family, will tell the family about the holidays and the chance to spend a week at Malcolm Sargent House, CLIC Sargent's holiday home in Ayrshire.
"Whilst I was initially apprehensive, being concerned about how we would cope being away from the hospital, our social worker soon put my mind at rest. It wasn't until we arrived at Malcolm Sargent House that I realised how much we all needed a break. It was a relief to stop for a bit, and take a deep breath. It also gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my family without all the worry and stress that goes with caring for a child with cancer," said the father.
CLIC Sargent holidays aren't just normal holidays. Families who have been caring for a child with cancer often forget what quality family time is like, as their lives are turned upside down and helping their child get through treatment becomes their sole priority.
As well as recognising the need for families to spend time away from the ward together and doing normal family things, CLIC Sargent also recognises that money is an issue. Loss of income and increased costs through travelling to and from hospital and so on can rule a holiday out of the question. But CLIC Sargent holidays are free, and available to everyone.
As well as Malcolm Sargent House in Ayrshire, CLIC Sargent has three more luxury holiday homes on the coast. And thanks to the fantastic fund-raising efforts of Liam Fairhurst, the charity is about to open its fourth.
Liam launched his fund-raising appeal in 2006, and in December he embarked on a sponsored swim to mark his one year anniversary of being off treatment for childhood cancer. His appearance on the ITV show Million Pound Giveaway touched the panel so much that he was granted £50,000, added to his amazing personal efforts and meant his fund-raising total now exceeds £80,000.
The £50,000 meant that CLIC Sargent was able to buy another holiday home for families of children with cancer.
Sadly, Liam discovered in February that his cancer had returned but he has had some more treatment and is now recovering at home. His family say he is determined to continue fund-raising, even as he goes through his second course of treatment.
In the meantime, the money he has already raised has been used to purchase the charity's fourth luxury caravan in Filey on the East Yorkshire Coast.
Liam's caravan will allow up to 30 families each year to escape the stresses of the cancer ward and enjoy some quality, family time together. The difference Liam will be making to their lives is immeasurable. As one caravan user says: "You don't realise the value of being able to sit around the table with your family and have a meal until you have gone six months without being able to do so."
CLIC Sargent's new caravan is due to welcome its first family during the early part of May.