'You never think it will touch your family but now I know heartbreak of child cancer'

Paul Routledge’s 14-month-old great-granddaughter is currently undergoing gruelling treatment for cancer, and with five young children diagnosed every day, he is showing his support for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (stock image)
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (stock image)

There seems to be a ­medical month for ­everything these days. But this one is special, ­personal, family.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Our beautiful great-grand-daughter Robyn, 14 months old, has been under the care of oncologists at Leeds General Infirmary since mid-May.

Her ordeal is set to continue for many weeks, with more intensive treatment to ­eradicate the cancer.

It’s truly devastating for her young parents, and our daughter, her grandmother (I still can’t get over having a daughter who’s a grandma).

The family is in bits, but we are not alone. Every day in the UK, five children under the age of 14 receive the ­frightening news that they have cancer.

Cruelly, almost half of the 1,900 cases a year involve the under-fives, with boys more likely to suffer than girls.

Child cancers are less than 1% of the total, but they are the most heartbreaking. It shouldn’t happen to those on the very threshold of life.

The good news is that treatment is improving all the time. Survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years.

This awareness month aims to fund more research into better diagnosis, and kinder and more effective treatments. Some of today’s medical intervention is punishing, especially to the very young.

Research should further improve survival rates and reduce the long-term effects so often endured as a result of cancer treatment.

You never think it will happen to your children, or grandchildren, or in our case, great-grandchild.

But it does, and the group of ­charities organising this month’s campaign, including Children with Cancer UK, deserve all the support they can get.

The doctors, nurses and staff at LGI are doing a marvellous job. I have faith in their skill and dedication. Without them, and the NHS, life would be desolate indeed.


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