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'Teenagers need cancer wards of their own'

KOLM Mooney was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour when he was eight years old.

The 22-year-old had a small biopsy, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy consecutively over six months. He then underwent years of physiotherapy as the tumour left him with hemiplegia -- a complete loss of movement on the right-hand side of his body.

Some of his most difficult years were during his adolescence when he had to do strenuous exercise to slowly recover.

When he was 12, he joined the support group CanTeen and has since become a strong advocator of teen cancer treatment centres.

"It's proven that teenagers and young people recover better when they are treated together," he told the Herald, echoing a comment made by Dr Michael Capra.

"I feel very strongly about this, we need new cancer wards. Young people do not require the same care as children nor should they be in the same ward as older people who usually have very different conditions.



Confidence

"The benefits would be great from a psychological point of view and also for the survival rate of patients."

Kolm is one of many survivors who pointed out the lack of a support network when young cancer survivors and sufferers turn 25.

"I've been with CanTeen for ten years and I don't really know who I will turn to, except former CanTeen members and leaders, when I turn 25," he said.

"I know many members of the group stay in touch, a lot of them would come back as volunteer leaders after a year and you could still talk to them about the same things.

"CanTeen was really a major confidence boost for me because it was the only place where you can really talk comfortably to people about cancer, it's a great environment where you can make good friends that you know what you are talking about."

Kolm has just finished a film course in Colaiste Dhulaigh and now hopes to head off to Los Angeles in a few months.


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