Jack the Lad: Back young Swans and Teenage Cancer Trust

6th March 2019

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad urges the Jack Army to take the chance to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust when the under-23s face West Ham on Monday, having seen first hand the difference the charity can make.

If you’re not heading off to the Swans' away games at Norwich and West Brom, and you’re looking for a football fix, why not go along to watch the Under-23s match next Monday evening?

Not only will you be giving our youngsters much deserved support against West Ham, you can help a fantastic charity which has grown close to the hearts of Cameron Toshack, Gary Richards and their team.

The Swans have waived admission for the match in favour of supporters making a donation towards the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Young Swans midfielder Jack Evans recently received treatment at the trust’s specialised unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Thankfully he is now in remission and has signed an extension to his contract with the club he has been connected with since the age of eight.

The 20-year-old has helped raise money for the Trust, while the Swans’ first-team and Under-23 squads have also contributed along with his family and friends.

Now us fans can make our own contribution by turning out in force for the Under-23s' next two games against West Ham on Monday and Spurs on April 11. Donations were also being taken at the match against Everton last month.

The eight-bed unit in Cardiff offers specialised cancer care tailored for teenagers and young adults from all around the country.

I first became aware of the importance of this kind of unit 16 years ago when I was receiving cancer treatment alongside a young lad at Swansea’s Singleton Hospital.

While the care on the hospital’s cancer ward was second to none - evidenced by the fact I'm still here - the environment was a naturally a difficult one, especially for someone in their mid-teens.

Too old for a children’s ward, but not ideally suited for an adult ward where the majority of patients were middle aged or older.

At 38-years old, I was the closest in age to the youngster. The age gap between us was the same as between myself and the next youngest person on the ward.

Now I still like to think I’m “down with the kids”, but in truth even then I wasn’t exactly on the same wavelength as somebody in their mid-teens.

And I have to admit, it was a pretty scary experience for me being on a ward with some seriously ill people.

What it must have been like for a teenager, with all the changes and uncertainties going on at that stage of life, I can’t begin to imagine.

Being in an unfamiliar environment, receiving treatment for a serious illness, with a group of people at the very least more than 20 years older must have been hugely challenging.

Inspired by the way he coped with what was an extremely difficult situation, I became involved with the fundraising campaign to help open Wales’ first TCT unit in Cardiff.

The £3.4million “Skypad” - named because of its futuristic design on stilts - would provide everything possible to help 13 to 24-year-olds through a potentially hugely traumatic time.

All bedrooms are equipped with soft furnishings, bespoke furniture, TV, DVD and gaming facilities. There is dedicated Teenage Cancer Trust WiFi with laptops provided.

Perhaps, more importantly, the patients are surrounded by others of a similar age, all experiencing the same worries and fears unique to their age group.

I have to admit my involvement ended when the unit opened in 2009, but I’m delighted to see it is still helping youngsters like our own Jack Evans through their cancer treatment.

Although the unit has been up and running for over a decade, it still continues to need funding in order to cover day to day running costs.

And what better way to support it than turning out to cheer on our excellent young squad, who will hopefully follow in the footsteps of the likes of Dan James, Joe Roden and all, into the Swans first team.

Come on you Swans!