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ellenor hospice nurse highlights National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

A nurse helping young cancer patients says it has been a privilege to work with them through the toughest of times.

Speaking during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Trish Gilmore – who works for Gravesend's ellenor hospice – knows patients and their families need more re-assurance than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic.

ellenor nurse Patricia Gilmore with Lily Eaton. Picture supplied by ellenor
ellenor nurse Patricia Gilmore with Lily Eaton. Picture supplied by ellenor

Ellenor's children’s hospice care is provided in the comfort of the family home and spans across north and west Kent and Bexley . Adults living in Gravesham , Dartford and Swanley can receive care either in their own home, at the hospice in Northfleet or a local care home.

Families of children who have a life limiting or life-threatening condition will know it’s a worrying and frightening time, but their journey is made a little easier thanks to the children’s palliative care team.

Trish Gilmore works at ellenor, which is the only hospice in the UK to provide support to children with cancer to live at home while undergoing treatments, such as chemotherapy.

Around a third of the children ellenor supports are cancer patients, with between half to two thirds making a full recovery.

As a senior staff nurse, she supports the paediatric outreach team and helps look after 30 families living in north west Kent and Bexley.

She said: “The children we work with have different life-threatening conditions which means they have been born with long-term complex health needs. We also work with children with a cancer diagnosis.Children are referred to us from the local community, local hospitals and various London hospitals such as Great Ormond Street, the Royal Marsden, and University College Hospital London.

"Although children will have to attend their main appointments with consultants at these hospitals, community care and monitoring allows families to reduce the time spent travelling to London for treatment that can be delivered at home.

“It is a privilege to work with families and be able to support them holistically – not just their medical needs but also offering them a bespoke package of care.

“Once a diagnosis has been made and a treatment plan agreed, my role is to visit the patients at home and provide support, advice and symptom management for children undergoing treatment.

"Ourpriority is to help children live as much of a normal life as possible. Many lead a normal life and make a full recovery.

“The Covid-19 crisis has added fear and another challenge to their lives. Families have expressed a heightened state of anxiety therefore ellenor is always there –to offer reassurance and tender care like building a plan with them to cope with lockdown to having all necessary medicines and prescriptions available, and continuing chemotherapy treatment at home.

“We keep in contact with families by WhatsApp, email, phone, or online via weekly zoom calls. For our oncology patients, we visit them weekly at home, wearing full PPE.

“I feel privileged to work with wonderful colleagues and the families we support. These times remind me how much I love my job – it’s been particularly rewarding to know that we can always help families through these tough times.”

One patient is Lily Eaton. Lily’s mum, Sian Eaton, said: “We have nothing but praise for ellenor’s Children’s at Home team. What has stood out for me most is their dedication.

"It’s been a very worrying time for our family since Lily was diagnosed with leukaemia. They really care about our family.

"During Covid, this level of service hasn’t stopped. We’ve had phone calls from Tricia, checking up on Lily and the rest of the family, and following up on appointments and on things they would do."

National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is an annual health campaign organised by major childhood cancer organisations, to increase awareness of cancer in children, as well as the work charities do to support children with cancer and their families.

Tofind out more about ellenor’s services please contact 01474 320007 and ask for the children’s team or email TELH.Ellenor-Childrens-team@nhs.net

The hospice charity is holding a virtual Twilight Walk from Saturday and throughout next week, a twist on one of its big annual fundraisers. It culminates in an online music and entertainment event next Friday. Find out more here and register here .

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford

Read more: All the latest news from Bexley and Bromley

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