Children treated for brain tumours have the greatest need for psychological support of all children treated for cancer – because the site of the tumour means they almost always have long term difficulties as a result. (These can include blindness, anxiety, depression and speech/memory loss). 62% of children who survive a brain tumour are left with a long-term disability.
Most children have lengthy and complicated surgery to attempt to remove the tumour. They then undergo chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy to the brain and spine, which can permanently damage healthy tissue. All children who survive treatment are left with complex long-term emotional, physical and/or learning-related issues that change their lives forever. Rehabilitation for these children during and after treatment is thus a long and complex journey. Tom’s Trust also supports families who must say goodbye to their children and start the difficult process of living without them. Further key facts:
• “Failure to provide appropriate early rehabilitation therapy can result in increased long term disability”. (NHS England Neuro-rehabilitation service specification 2014)
• 1500 children are diagnosed annually with cancer. Of these, nearly a third (c.400) have brain tumours.
• A child’s diagnosis has a significant impact on parents and siblings, as a result of stress, uncertainty, upheaval and changes to daily life. Psychological input for parents and siblings is also vital to alleviate distress and promote emotional wellbeing in the wider family.
• A third of UK cancer deaths in children under 15 are due to brain cancer.
We are the only UK Charity focusing solely on providing Clinical Psychology for children with brain tumours and their families
Dr Angela Kirby – Lead Clinical Psychologist, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge
Debs Whiteley – Tom’s Mum