Funding gives hope to childhood cancer survivors

2 September 2016 | Annie Miller

Assoc.Professor Claire Wakefield

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Associate Professor Claire Wakefield (above) and her team at the University of NSW have revealed new data that shines a light on the quality of life of childhood cancer survivors: they have shown that over 8 in 10 childhood cancer survivors develop at least one so-called late effect – meaning side effects appearing a long time after cancer treatment received as a child. Late effects can be physical or mental, and sometimes appear for decades after treatment.


Funding survivorship research

Funding new treatments and therapies to reduce the impact of cancer is essential – but at Cancer Council NSW, we also focus on research to improve the quality of life of survivors.

This is why Cancer Council NSW has awarded A/Prof Wakefield’s team with a grant of $2.2million. Funding a program that aims to reduce the incidence of chronic physical and mental illness after treatment, and enhance the social wellbeing and quality of life of survivors and their families.

A program of six interventions

A/Prof Wakefield’s program includes six interventions, among them Reboot (encouraging healthy eating after treatment) and Recapture Life (increasing resilience in young people).

“Often, children may not understand why they can no longer eat some of the treats they were allowed when they were in hospital,” explained A/Prof Wakefield.

“Many young people also tell us that it’s hard to just return ‘back to normal’ after cancer. Many aspects of life may have changed because of their cancer journey (e.g. relationships with friends and family, physical and mental health), and worrying about the future or cancer recurrence can be really stressful,” she continued.

The six interventions aim to help young adults with some of the stresses they face, and improve their quality of life.


Our support services

But what about survivors who did not receive interventions like the ones that A/Prof Wakefield is developing?

Cancer Council NSW offers a range of services for survivors who find transitioning back into life hard:

  • Our survivorship webinars offer support on issues that many survivors struggle with – challenges such as returning to work, fears of the cancer coming back, and healthy eating and exercise. The webinars are popular because they can be accessed from any location, and at any time.
  • We also have a range of after treatment programs, including information and support on how to live a healthy life after cancer.
  • For those who want to speak to someone who has gone through similar experiences, our Cancer Connect peer support provides one on one telephone support from trained volunteers. Participants’ ages range from people in their 20s through to 80+.
  • Survivors also often struggle with the practical implications of life after cancer – our pro bono program can connect them with lawyers and HR professionals, for financial and legal advice.


Want to help? Buy a pin for someone you know this Daffodil Day

On Friday, 26 August, you can help support Cancer Council NSW, its researchers and support programs by participating in Daffodil Day. This year marks the 30th year of Daffodil Day in Australia. Show support for someone you know by buying and wearing a pin on 26 August.

To find out where you can get a pin in your region, check the nearest location on our Daffodil Day website.

By supporting Daffodil Day, you help fund researchers like A/Prof Claire Wakefield – she and her team work hard to improve the quality of life of childhood cancer survivors. The funds raised also go towards Cancer Council NSW’s other support services as well as prevention programs and advocacy.

Learn more about our services for cancer survivors.