UoN goes for gold to support childhood cancer campaign

September 15th, 2021

The University of Nottingham is lighting its iconic Trent Building gold this week in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

Childhood Cancer Awareness month (CCAM) takes place every September to highlight the signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for children’s cancers with the aim of raising awareness and funds.

The Trent Building will be glowing gold on the evening of Thursday 16 September and will join iconic buildings across the region and UK who are lighting up gold during the month.

Research into Childhood Cancer is taking place at the university, with Dr Shaarna Shanmugavadivel leading the Childhood Cancer Diagnosis Study to understand how cancer is diagnosed in children and young people across the UK.

The project aims to help researchers to understand the journey that children and young people experience from the start of their symptoms until they receive their diagnosis of cancer.

To do this, experts will collect information about what symptoms they experience, who they go to see with these symptoms initially, and how long it takes before the diagnosis is reached.

Dr Shanmugavadivel said: “It’s fantastic that the university is supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and lighting up gold. The misperception by the public and professionals that childhood cancer is rare means it is often not considered until the child has multiple symptoms at which point it is more likely to be at an advanced stage. Time is crucial; untreated, tumours grow bigger and can spread around the body requiring more extensive surgery and more intensive therapies to offer cure.

Early diagnosis is therefore key and this is why raising awareness of the signs and symptoms through campaigns such as HeadSmart and undertaking research to understand diagnostic delays is vital to help ensure better survival and long-term outcomes for children.”

Jane Icke, who works at the university, is backing the CCAM campaign as her daughter Alice has been treated for cancer twice – kidney cancer in 2014, known as a Wilms tumour, which returned in her lung in 2015. Alice was treated at QMC and is now almost 5 years in remission.

Alice Icke outside of Trent Building lit in gold

Jane said: “It took repeated trips to the GP with various symptoms before we got a cancer diagnosis for Alice. Her symptoms could have been many childhood illnesses which made it difficult to spot initially and it wasn’t until we took her with a very swollen tummy that we were sent to hospital.

Even then I never in a million years thought it could be cancer. Finding out your child has cancer is a devastating shock as are the treatments children face which are harsh and gruelling with many side effects. Alice had two major surgeries, countless rounds of chemotherapy which led to fevers and illness due to reduced immunity, blood transfusions and inevitable hospital stays.

She also had radiotherapy and finally high dose chemo followed by a stem cell transplant. To improve children’s chances of survival and to reduce the long term side effects of treatment there needs to be better awareness around the signs and symptoms of cancer in children, which isn’t as rare as people think, and more funding for the development of kinder, more targeted treatments.”

A number of Childhood Cancer charities are involved in CCAM fundraising activities including: CCLG, and Cancer Research UK.

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