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COVID-19 and how our emergency appeal is helping

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt by each and every one of us but none more so than our young cancer patients and their families.

As each day passes, parents are still being told their child has cancer. Treatment is still happening and families are still facing the huge costs that cancer brings. As we know cancer costs families an extra £600 a month and with possible further drops in income during Coronavirus, the number of families in crisis is increasing. Many of them are facing extreme isolation and uncertainty about their future.

Cancer does NOT stop for anything.

The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation is working hard to help each and every grant applicant that is in need. We owe it to our teenagers and young adults to continue to give our support; the young people we support need us more than ever.

They are relying on us. They need us more than ever!

Emotional Support

Cancer is devastating at any age, but teenagers and young adults are going through so many emotional and developmental changes mean having cancer can hit them hardest psychologically.

Read more about the emotional support we offer:

Sophie’s Story
The Emotional effect of cancer on a teenager with cancer
Something as Simple as Baking a Cake

Financial Support

Helping families who are struggling with the expense of living with cancer, the cost of travel, computer equipment, and more:

“……you are 19 years old and have been diagnosed with a brain tumour. You have spent months in hospital and have undergone brain surgery. You are now receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy which is making you very unwell. The daily travel you and your Mum make to the hospital is making you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. 

Your Mum can no longer work as she is now your full-time carer and income is very limited. Your rent cannot be paid and you may be made homeless. You are now more anxious about financial matters than your illness!”

The donations made by YOU have allowed this young person to receive a grant to help with their travel to and from hospital.


l have been fighting high grade Oestosarcoma for the past 8 months. I feel  lonely in the hospital  but right now am not lonely anymore,I just want to thank everyone at The Tom Bowdidge foundation and everyone who donated for my New laptop. It’s fantastic.

Many thanks


“……you are 16 years old and have been diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. You have been extremely unwell and have spent weeks in intensive care. You are now receiving chemotherapy and remain very poorly. Your Mum has to look after your little sister as well as care for you and has had to give up work to be by your side. Your weight has changed due to the treatment. There is no money for travel to and from the hospital, household bills, childcare, food and new clothes. You are very worried.”

A grant was made to this family to help with their financial difficulties thanks to YOUR generous donations.


“…… you are 13 years old and have been diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive osteosarcoma. You have undergone extensive surgery and will need further surgery. Your parents have no wage as they are caring for you whilst you continue to receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. You cannot go to school because you are in so much pain and have poor mobility. You feel vulnerable and helpless. Because you cannot share your experiences with your friends you feel isolated and depressed. There are strong links between emotional and physical well-being.”

This teenager wanted a laptop as the family had no such devices. This would enable them to access school work online and connect once again with his school friends through online gaming and social forums. YOUR donations allowed us to buy a laptop to help this young person build up their self-esteem.


Nikki talks about the financial pressure that accompanies cancer.

When Richard and I received the news that no parent should ever have to hear – that our son had cancer we had no idea just how tough that journey was going to be.  Yet compared to many families we were actually very lucky – yes lucky. 

Tom was treated in University College Hospital in London on a teenage cancer ward. Fortunately, there was a pull-out bed which meant Nikki could sleep by his side 24/7. Richard unfortunately had to leave every evening but luckily, we were offered a house 10 minutes away, so Richard could be very close by and not have to travel back home every night.

For both of us our employers were amazing. I stayed on a full wage for 12 months and Richard could be at the hospital whenever he needed to be. We had no reduction in our income which was such a relief because our living costs in London were high. The extra ready meals, food and travel costs added up greatly.

Emma was at university in Reading which was a blessing because she was closer to us in London than if we were at home. She could pop up to see her brother whenever she wanted.

Finally, we had the most amazing support network in our families and friends. We wanted for nothing and had everyone at our beck and call whenever we needed it. Without them we would not have coped.

Sadly, our story is very rare and the young people that apply to us for a grant have very different stories to tell.

Physical Support

The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation is raising money to ensure there is an age-appropriate space provided for young people with cancer in hospitals across the country.

Our first project was very much at the centre of Tom’s heart. His shared care hospital was Colchester General Hospital and he was often admitted for emergency antibiotics to the oncology ward in Essex County Hospital. Having been treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward at University College Hospital in London, the difference was vast. Local hospitals simply are not geared up to treat teenagers and young people in age appropriate environments. These young people are no longer children but they do not fit in on an adult ward either. They need to be treated like teenagers first in an environment where they will feel comfortable.

The Tom Bowdidge Foundation took Colchester General on first. With guidance from Teenage Cancer Trust we created two rooms; one in the Out-patient department where teenagers and their families can have meetings, be alone or talk in private. The second room, the Young Adult Clinic Room, is in the Mary Barron suite where teenagers can have their treatment in private.

Read more about our projects to date below:

The Young Adults Quiet Space
Teenage and Young Adults ensuite single room
Recreation Room on T13 at University College Hospital, London
Clinical Room – The Mary Barron Suite

Tom’s Story

Hear it first from Tom himself at the Royal Albert Hall in May 2013.

And now read more from Nikki and Richard here…

Ezri’s Story


Firstly I’d like to address that I am not a writer, yes I take English Literature, Biology and Psychology at A-level and these all require you to write articulate essays, unfortunately this is still not my strong suit but this is my story and it will be in my own words (even if they are terrible). Right there’s the hardest part out the way… only joking, sit tight.

Hello again, my name is Ezri Payne, yes, I am named after a Star Trek character (thank you Dad), I am 18 years old and have just finished my final year of college (I think). My original plan was to finish college with flying colours and then study Paramedic Science at Anglia Ruskin. I love gruesome things, which is why I chose to have local anaesthetic to have my lump removed (yes it felt very strange 10/10 would NOT recommend) anyways I’ll get back to this. I think back to before my diagnosis and how lucky I was to be so blissfully unaware of the huge impact that one word can cause on someone. Now, I have had exposure to cancer when it sadly took the life of my grandparents, but I think it was hard for me to grasp the full extent of damage. It is not only physically debilitating but also mentally which is why as horrible it seems I try to joke about it because truly, laughter is the best medicine.

Read more from Ezri here…