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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
'I had no-one my own age to talk to '
Image of facilities in specialist teenage unit
Under half of teenage cancer patients do not get access to specialist services
The NHS has been told to ensure all under 19 cancer patients are treated in wards designed for them.

A young woman speaks about why she found it hard when she was placed in an adult ward.

Sarah Ramsden was 19 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the network of vessels which form part of the body's immune system.

Being a Leeds resident, she should have been one of the minority of teenage cancer patients who was treated in a specialist ward.

The West Yorkshire city is one of only eight in England and Wales that has an adolescent unit.

I was in a ward with elderly people which made it hard
Sarah Ramsden

But, instead, the air hostess was referred to another hospital, the Leeds General Infirmary, which did not have such facilities.

Miss Ramsden, now 21 and in remission, spent five months at the hospital after she had a stem cell transplant.

She said: "I was in a ward with elderly people which made it hard. There was no young people, apart from my brother who was also diagnosed with Hodgkin's, to talk to. All there was was a small TV.

"Hospital is bad enough at the best of times, but at least if there were facilities that are geared towards you it can make the time go a bit quicker.

"I have no complaints about the nurses and other staff there. They were great, but they were not trained for caring for teenagers."

Miss Ramsden has subsequently seen the nearby specialist adolescent unit, built by the Teenage Cancer Trust, which has a range of facilities including games rooms and internet access.

"It would have made a huge difference to me if I had had a pool table or something.

"Such things would make your stay more relaxing and that in turn helps your recovery."

'Tailor child cancer care' call
24 Aug 05 |  Health

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