September at Shine Bright Support
September is an important month here at Shine Bright Support. It is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, the month of our September Challenge and is the month that Eleri left this world.
The aim of our charity has always been, and always will be, to support families affected by childhood cancer. An important part of what we do is to raise awareness of the difficulties these families face and the difficult nature of treatment for children and young people. Did you know that cancer is still the biggest killer of children in the UK? Yes, survival rates have improved since the 1960s, but children still lose their lives to cancer every day. From personal experience, we have seen that people ‘don’t want to think’ about the horror of a child being terminally ill; well we all have to think about it, we all need to be aware of it. Not just the symptoms for early diagnosis, but the brutal and uncompromising realities of the treatments these children face. We all need to ‘think about’ what happens to a child and a family when cancer interrupts their life. We all need to know and understand the repercussions the illness has for these young people and their families. That is what Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is all about – getting people to engage with something that seems unimaginable to most.
To help raise awareness we run our September challenge which encourages individuals, pairs or families to complete either 50 or 100 kilometres over the month. According to Clic Sargent’s report into the financial impact of travel on young cancer patients and their families the average trip for a family to attend appointments at their primary care centre is 60 miles. By running either 50k or 100k you are experiencing just a little of the hardship these families have to face. You can run, bike, swim, walk or even hop it if you want; as long as you help us raise awareness and some money to support these families, we really don’t mind how you do it.
This year, to compliment the September Challenge, we are selling golden laces. Wear them when you are completing our challenge and tell everyone why. If you don’t want to complete the challenge, then you can just buy a pair and wear them with pride. Tell everyone why you are wearing them and how they too can support our charity. Last year we raised an amazing £6000 through the September challenge. We would love to grow that figure this year so please, if you can, dust off your trainers, add some gold bling and bring some sparkle to the lives of families who need it most.
Last, but by no means least, we will take some time in September to remember Eleri. A bright, vivacious young girl, Eleri had her life stolen by cancer on 14 September 2019. Her experiences and those of her family are what drove us to found Shine Bright Support. In 2018 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children, Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer published the findings of the first inquiry into patient experience for children and young people being treated for cancer. They found that:
Almost three-quarters of young people responding (73%) did not think enough was being done to improve experiences of early diagnosis
73% of parents and young people didn’t think enough was being done to ensure access to post-treatment support
64% respondents did not think enough was being done to create a positive experience for children, teenagers and young adults with cancer
82% of young people and parents responding to the survey did not think that the government listens to the experiences of young people with cancer and their families enough.
These findings fall in line with the experiences of Eleri and her family. Here at Shine Bright Support we want to do our very best to help raise awareness of symptoms, support families through treatment and be there to support them in the wilderness of the post-treatment world. We can’t change how the government funds the NHS, but we can make sure that the money we raise reaches the families who need it most. Let us light up the lives of families who need love, kindness and compassion at a time when darkness threatens to consume everything they hold dear. Shine Bright Support is Eleri’s legacy and by joining us in September you will be ensuring that it shines as bright as she did in life.