Children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent helped teenager Matthew White recover after two brain tumours. Catherine Scott reports.
A teenager who suffered two brain tumours while he was at college has praised the charity that helped him through. Matthew White, 19 from Greenhill, Sheffield, was left nearly blind by the pressure of the tumours on his brain. The teen, who loved baking and playing computer games before his diagnosis aged 17, underwent five weeks of radiotherapy to shrink the masses.
“The treatment left me feeling exhausted,” says Matthew.
After treatment finished, Matthew spent almost six months at home. He was so exhausted he was unable to return to college and he fell into depression.
“When you are in the hospital having radiotherapy you are in a routine. Then you get home and there’s nothing like that. After a while I got quite low being in a daily cycle of being exhausted and just lying there. I was really depressed. I had one friend who would come and see me but apart from that it was just me and my mum at home, not being able to do anything. The social isolation is really hard. That day I left college is the last day I saw most of my friends. It was especially hard at Christmas when most of my friends had gone off the radar and didn’t have anything to do with me.
“When you have cancer you know you are going to be ill, but you don’t think your whole social life is going to crumble around you.”
But Matthew was invited to a party thrown by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading charity supporting children and young people with cancer.
There he met other young people with cancer, and started to form friendships that eased his feelings of isolation. Fran, his CLIC Sargent social worker, also helped the family apply for grants to help them cope with the extra costs a diagnosis brings, as well as supporting Matthew’s transition back to education. Her support was so vital to the family, that Matthew’s mum Susan described meeting her as ‘the best thing that happened to us’.
“It has just been good to have Fran there. The first time she came to the house I was so pleased to be interacting with a normal person, not a medic. She gave me the realisation that it’s not the end of life; it is a change of life. She showed me that it is possible to get back to where you were.”
Matthew has now returned to college to prepare for university, where he wants to study robotics. He has even started baking again.
Morrisons chose CLIC Sargent to be its charity partner following a staff vote in January 2017 and has already raised more than £5.5m.
The three-year partnership has a target of £10m that will transform the support CLIC Sargent can give to young people facing cancer.
Morrisons is currently donating 5p of every packet of Utterly Butterly sold to CLIC Sargent.
For more information visit www.clicsargent.org.uk