A recent survey conducted by leading UK charity, CCLG (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group), has highlighted the long-term impact of childhood cancer, with nearly 60% of survivors facing a range of physical and mental health challenges.

This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September 2023), CCLG are sharing the stories of those affected, such as that of Ellen Bisci, 27, from Harrow, north-west London. Ellen was diagnosed with a form of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 2005, before relapsing three years later when she also suffered a stroke. As a result of the treatment she received, Ellen has a long list of late effects, including chronic migraines and fatigue, urinary dysfunction, and thyroid issues. She also has focal epilepsy, problems with her memory and facial recognition from the stroke, and intracranial hypertension – for which she’s had 13 brain surgeries, including having a shunt put in.

Kimberley Hattersley-Barton, 25, from Halifax, was originally diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in 1999 when 13 months old. She has since been diagnosed with cancer a further three times, and is now in remission for all four cancers. She suffers from a raft of late effects due to the treatment she received, including kidney, heart and ovarian failure, the latter of which led to her being told she was infertile last year.

Ashley Ball-Gamble, CEO CCLG, said: “This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we want to share these findings in the hope that the public and professional bodies are more aware of the long-term challenges children with cancer face after treatment. We are in a unique position to feed back our findings to our members, and these invaluable insights will help us influence positive change through our network of national experts.”

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The charity is also funding research into finding kinder, more effective treatments that will result in less long-term impacts for the patient. Ellen said: “I’m extremely hopeful that with the newer treatments that are available now and that continue to be modified and found, late effects won’t be so impactful for childhood survivors in the future.”

Mr Ball-Gamble added: “One of the best ways we can mitigate the impact of late effects is to continue to find or refine treatments so that they’re less harmful to patients in both the short- and long-term, and the only way to do that is through research.”

This September, UK charity CCLG (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group) are raising awareness of the long-term impact of childhood cancer, with a survey of survivors finding that 57% have faced a range of physical and mental health challenges. Survivors’ stories, such as Ellen Bisci and Kimberley Hattersley-Barton, are being shared in the hope of raising awareness of the long-term effects of childhood cancer, and the charity is funding research into finding kinder, more effective treatments.