reat Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity has launched its biggest-ever fundraising appeal to raise £300 million for a new world-leading cancer centre.
The charity hopes to take the first strides towards the Build it. Beat it campaign’s total when runners take part in the TCS London Marathon on April 23 with a goal to raise £3.5 million. GOSH Charity is the marathon’s charity of the year.
Every day, an average of five families in the UK receive the devastating news their child has cancer, according to figures from Cancer Research UK.
The Children’s Cancer Centre will care for youngsters with some of the most complex and difficult-to-treat cancers, and will support every aspect of care for children and their families, from diagnosis to remission.
The centre will have inpatient wards, intensive care units, operating theatres and a cancer day care centre where children can receive their chemotherapy, meaning the hospital’s specialist teams can work more closely together in the same part of the campus.
Alongside the clinical services, the Children’s Cancer Centre will also feature a new hospital school and outdoor spaces including a roof garden, to make sure children can still enjoy their childhood while they are going through treatment.
GOSH already treats the highest number of children with cancer in the UK and while investment in research and treatment has significantly improved survival rates, cancer remains the most common cause of death in children aged one to 14, according to Cancer Research UK statistics.
Some forms of cancer have only a 2% survival rate, like DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) which is a type of brain tumour found in an area of the brainstem known as the pons.
The Build it. Beat it appeal has been launched with a film depicting the stories of four families who have been treated at GOSH: seven-year-old Archie, three-year-old Yumna, four-month-old Ralphie and baby Max, who died from a malignant rhabdoid tumour just before his first birthday.
Three-year-old Yumna was diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma in December 2021, just days after her second birthday.
She immediately started intensive chemotherapy treatment before having surgery in 2022 to remove the tumour. Yumna is now having targeted immunotherapy.
Salma Bibi, Yumna’s mother, said: “When Yumna was diagnosed, I just felt numb. Cancer hadn’t touched our family before, so we didn’t really know anything about it – we were just in complete shock.
“I had always heard about Great Ormond Street Hospital but didn’t know much about it – you hope you’ll never have to. But the support Yumna and my family has received has been amazing, the staff see you through the toughest times and do everything they can for you.
“The treatment has been gruelling for Yumna, but we are hoping for the best and are so grateful for everything the hospital has done for us.
“The Children’s Cancer Centre will be incredible. Speaking from experience, you spend a lot of time in the room with your child, so even things like having more outdoor space to have a five-minute breather would make a huge difference.”
The film is voiced by actor Sophie Okonedo, who said she was “proud” to be supporting the appeal for the hospital which “has already done so much to improve outcomes for children with cancer”.
GOSH Charity’s chief executive Louise Parkes, who is running the TCS London Marathon, said: “From the first bone marrow transplant for children in 1979, to being the first in the world to use base-edited cells to treat previously incurable leukaemia in 2022, GOSH has been at the forefront of children’s cancer care for years, but it needs a new home for breakthrough treatments and pioneering research to benefit children from all over the world.
“It is devastating that cancer is still the leading cause of death in children, but building on decades of research and clinical expertise, the Children’s Cancer Centre has the potential to help change this.”
She added: “We are calling upon the public to support the appeal and help us save more children’s lives.”
To find out more about the Children’s Cancer Centre at GOSH, visit gosh.org/cancer
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