Press release posted 5 June 2024

June 2024 marks a significant milestone for The Christie hospital’s TYA (Teenage and Young Adult) service as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Established in 2014 and funded by £10m from The Christie Charity, the bespoke TYA service provides treatment, care and support for young people navigating the complexities of a cancer diagnosis.

Coping with a potentially life-limiting disease and cancer treatment can literally stop young patients in their tracks, putting their education, career plans, hobbies and social life on hold. The TYA service not only provides specialist support to help young patients cope with the symptoms of their illness and support them through cancer treatment, but also helps with their emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Housed within The Christie hospital, the 10 bed TYA unit is part of the Palatine Treatment Centre alongside haematology and transplant services, as around a third of the young patients have blood-related cancers. The TYA treats around 270 new patients each year and its specialist approach is unique, in terms of cancer care across the country. 

The unit provides not only clinical care for young adults but is also a creative and supportive community space for patients aged 16 to 24 and their families, featuring two vibrant social hubs.

The first-floor hub offers a spacious area equipped with a TV, an extensive collection of DVDs, PlayStation and Xbox games, a kitchen, and an activity table. The second-floor hub boasts a pool table, football table, jukebox, computer hub, and a chill-out area, ensuring patients have a place to relax and connect during their treatment. There is also a gym, which was funded by the Manchester United Foundation to help young patients as part of their physiotherapy and rehabilitation. The top floor also houses accommodation for patients’ families.

The unit also boasts a music room on the second floor, which was funded by The Christie Charity. This room features a variety of musical instruments, including electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, and state-of-the-art recording equipment. The music room’s origins trace back to the inspiring efforts of Tom Buckley, a young Christie patient who raised an astonishing £100,000 for the hospital despite dealing with an inoperable brain tumour. Tom sadly died in 2009 but his legacy lives on through the music room, as part of the TYA service at The Christie.

Other services that the specialist unit offers include an ambulatory care service, which allows some of the young patients to have chemotherapy both at The Christie and at home, according to their individual requirements.

Complementary therapy is available in the unit, which can help young patients relax, especially when undergoing difficult medical procedures. Sessions can include reiki, massage, Indian head massage, reflexology, hypnotherapy and stress management techniques.

In addition to this, a professional artist provides weekly sessions in the unit. As a creative activity, art allows patients to express any thoughts and feelings they find difficult to put into words.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the TYA unit, artist Ben C Downs from Manchester has been working with the young patients to create a striking mural which will be unveiled in July. 27-year-old Ben has worked with many local businesses and global companies and has created numerous murals across the region, including notable works at Afflecks Palace, Joshua Brooks, Stockport Exchange and Alvarium.

A phot of a mural painting of a Manchester Metrolink tram for The Christie hospital’s Teenage and Young Adult service.
A mural painting of a Manchester Metrolink tram for the Teenage and Young Adult service.

“It has been a great experience and an absolute pleasure to work with the TYA patients,” said Ben. “I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to bring their ideas to life and to create a more enjoyable atmosphere through art and colour.”

Hanna Simpson, Haematology and TYA Directorate Lead Nurse at The Christie, commented: “Almost all of the young patients engage with art at some point during their treatment, so it seemed fitting to bring in Ben C Downs to work with them to create the new mural to celebrate our 10-year anniversary.

“We’re incredibly grateful to The Christie Charity whose support for the past 10 years and ongoing funding has made a huge difference to our young patients.”

Another unique offering that the TYA service provides is called ‘Your Way Forward’ where young patients are offered support to help them live beyond their cancer treatment, which includes money management, mental health, and life skills.

“We believe every young person should be supported throughout their treatment but also be supported to move on into education or employment,” added Hanna. “Your Way Forward is a conference for young people about the challenges they may face at the end of treatment. We want to ensure young people have a bright future ahead after treatment.”

24-year-old Lea Abel from Failsworth, Manchester, was a patient at the TYA unit seven years ago and now works for The Christie Charity. Diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer at the age of 17, Lea received chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the TYA unit. She says: “All the staff at the TYA unit were incredible – they supported me both mentally and physically. I will never forget how they all went out of their way to look after me and check up on me.

“Being in a bespoke unit where I was surrounded by other young patients and so many brilliant facilities made such a difference to me during my treatment. There were opportunities to go on residentials and spa days, as well as regular movie nights with pizzas. It all helped in terms of coping with the cancer treatment.”

A photo of former Christie patient and Christie Charity supporter Lea Abell in a Christie Charity t-shirt.
Former Christie patient and Christie Charity supporter Lea Abell.

Thankfully, Lea’s treatment was successful, and in September 2018, she was declared cancer-free. Four years later in 2022, Lea started working at The Christie Charity as part of the mass participation team as she explains: “My experience at the TYA inspired me to apply to work at The Christie Charity, as I could see first-hand what an impact it has on the hospital and all its facilities. The TYA simply wouldn’t exist without The Christie Charity, so I wanted to be a part of it.”

Lindsey Farthing, mass participation events manager at The Christie Charity commented: “Lea is a valued member of the sporting team here at The Christie Charity. She appreciates the importance of fundraising, and the huge impact it has on making The Christie hospital the amazing and unique place it is. So many of the special touches that ensure Christie patients receive outstanding care and treatment are made possible by the support of our fantastic supporters and fundraisers.”

To support the work of The Christie Charity, please go to Donate today or ring 0161 446 3988.

The Christie Charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS is able to fund. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education, and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.

Last updated: June 2024