Teenage cancer patients want public to back ‘haven’ appeal

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Lauren Green (18) and Matt Swift (18) became friends while undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in Southampton Hospital.

While the pair, who both studied at Highlands College, underwent treatment their families stayed in free accommodation run by the charity Clic Sargent, called Clic Haven.

The charity has now launched a fundraising appeal to transform a former Southampton bed and breakfast into a new home-from-home for young cancer patients and their families.

Clic Sargent hope that the home, which will be called Jean’s House, will be able to open in the autumn. The accommodation, based close to Southampton Hospital, will have seven en-suite family bedrooms – sleeping up to four people – two open-plan kitchen/diners, two lounges and a teenagers’ space. It will replace Clic Haven, which has supported thousands of families since it opened in the grounds of Southampton Hospital in 1991.

More than £1.2 million pounds has already been raised for Jean’s House and now the charity is appealing for the remaining £400,000 to fully renovate and furnish the house.

Lauren’s mother Danielle Doney said: ‘The house is like a sanctuary. It’s not the hospital – you can do normal things like load the washing machine or sit in a chair in the back yard. I felt less isolated staying here.

‘The support we’ve had from Clic Sargent is invaluable, priceless, we couldn’t do without it. Clic Sargent is holistic, looking after the whole family, not just the patient. The hospital is medically focused, all about getting rid of the cancer, not about my daughter struggling with cancer. For us to function as a family, a place like Clic Haven means you can have as normal a family life as possible.’

Lauren was diagnosed just after her GCSEs in 2015 after discovering a lump on her collar bone. Although treatment was an initial success she relapsed in February 2017 and has been in Southampton Hospital since receiving chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Ms Doney added: ‘I really hope that everyone in Jersey comes together to back this appeal because this is a great opportunity to support even more families like ours in the future.’

Matt was diagnosed in 2012 after experiencing fatigue and pains in his arms and legs. By September 2015, he was in remission, but he also relapsed in April 2017, and, like Lauren, he underwent chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant this year.

Matt’s mother, Micki Swift, said: ‘Clic Haven really is a home-from-home with other parents who can support you. Sometimes you want to talk and sometimes you don’t, so you can just go to your room if you want to be on your own. When Matt’s not wanted to talk much, it’s great to come to Clic Haven for ten minutes to have a cup of tea.’

For more information about the appeal log on to clicsargent.org.uk/movinghomesouthampton.

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