Teen cancer patients caught in the age gap in health system
CRICKET fanatic Nicholas McKenzie is "too old" for the a hospital children's wards but too young to be treated alongside more elderly patients.
He is caught in a gap in the health system. It's one which affects teenagers and young adults who would benefit from being around people their own age while they are treated.
Nicholas is 16 years old, and in September of 2017 was diagnosed with Osetogenic Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer most common in teenagers and young adults. It was a shock diagnosis - the family thought he was suffering a minor sporting injury.
Rather than spending time with others throughout his age through his treatment, he was put in a ward with much younger children.
His case is one of 1200 Australian teens and young adults diagnosed with a variety of medical problems each year which have helped expose the faults in the health system where they are not having adequate specialised treatment, facilities and peer interaction.
Cancer patients aged between 15 and 25 years old have significantly poorer survival rates than those who are younger or older.
In his treatment so far, Nicholas has "only seen maybe three or four (people) around my age".
Having a centre dedicated to focus on teenagers with cancer would be an asset to cancer treatment, according to Nicholas.
"It would be great to just talk to teenagers around similar ages to yourself. You could give each other tips, with treatment. You can't really … socialise with a kid who's 5 year younger than you because you have not much in common" he said.
The Sony Foundation set up an initiative in 2010 to help address this gap, with the 'You Can' campaign.
The aim is to build a series of specialised youth cancer centres, treatments and relevant services, and the creation of the first NSW You Can Centre to open late 2018 at Prince of Wales Hospital Randwick.
So far, two centres have been opened, one at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth and the other at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.
The initiative is teaming up with Big Bash League Team the Sydney Sixers to run a national fundraising campaign in the form of a twilight match on January 2013 at the SCG for the cause. All proceeds will be going towards You Can.
Nicholas is excited that the Sixers are in support of the initiative. "They've got a great fan bases and I think they would really be able to support this well and get it going" he said.