Teen cancer battler backs appeal for Leeds hospital

Claire Jobe and Lucy Hume with patient James Brook
Claire Jobe and Lucy Hume with patient James Brook
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A student who was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer aged 15 is backing an appeal to improve facilities for teenagers undergoing treatment in Leeds.

James Brook has twice battled the illness, including going to the United States for highly specialised proton therapy.

The 18-year-old has recently undergone further care in Leeds and London which he is hoping has been successful.

He is now supporting a £40,000 drive to create a teenage chill-out space at the children’s radiotherapy department in the Bexley Wing at St James’s Hospital.

James, from east Leeds, said he was keen to give something back.

“It was a big shock to be diagnosed with cancer after originally thinking I just had a heavy cold, and I have spent a lot of time in different hospitals since then and have got to know the staff here in Leeds very well.

“I wanted to volunteer my time to help so when I heard about the idea of a new appeal for teenagers that sounded perfect for me.”

The teenager was studying for his GCSEs at Temple Moor High School when he was shocked to be told he had a very rare cancer of the throat.

James had chemotherapy in Leeds and was sent to Jacksonville in the USA for proton therapy.

This worked well and he received the all-clear in June 2012, but sadly his cancer returned.

Now the keen sportsman, who is in the second year of a sports performance course at Leeds City College, is hoping to be given the all-clear again.

Lucy Hume, paediatric radiographer at St James’s, said they tried to make the department as child-friendly as possible but wanted dedicated facilities for teenagers.

She said: “We have identified an area suitable to be a teenage chill-out zone which we think will really make a big difference in providing a better environment where teenagers seeing us can escape to and have fun and do their own activities away from our younger patients as well as adults.

“We have managed to find a suitable area very close to the department, but it is quite literally a blank canvas which will take £40,000 to convert to what we have in mind. We also want to sub-divide the space and use part of it for a dedicated consultation room where teenagers can talk to staff about their treatment.”

* Donate via https://runningsponsorme.org/teenagechilloutspaceleeds, find the team’s Facebook appeal page or text a donation by sending PTYA51 £5 to 70070.

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