When talking to people about Chestnut Tree, it is surprising how many people believe that all the children we care for must have cancer. In many forms of childhood cancers, over 90% of the children survive, and many of these live for years keeping the cancer at bay with various treatments.
Sadly there are still some children who do not survive and those are the ones we care for. These children account for about 7% of the children on our caseload, but most of the children we look after have non-cancer diagnoses.
These include degenerative conditions, which mean that, although the children start life normally, they gradually lose skills over time. For example, we care for over 40 lads with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, who by their late teens are in a wheelchair needing assistance with all areas of daily living including assisted breathing.
We have many children with complex needs who struggle against the odds every day of their lives, leaving their families never knowing what tomorrow will bring. We also have many children with very complex medical conditions that over time can cause their major organs to fail.
But whilst this is very sad, these children are an honour to care for and bringing a smile to their faces is worth more than winning the lottery.
You can find out more about the work Chestnut Tree does, and how to access our services, at www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk