Hanna Simpson is a Specialist Teenage and Young Adult Community Liaison Nurse at the Christie Hospital in Manchester. She says it’s a privilege to refer patients for a Special Day.

“I’ve been working as a paediatric nurse for 15 years; 12 of those specialising in a range of Oncology and Haematology illnesses in children and young people.

We offer our patients a huge range of medical services; some save their lives, but all come with a price and many have gruelling side effects. A cancer diagnosis is awful; a Willow Special Day is the one truly positive experience we can offer.

We see that the experience is so much more than a day. Depending on prognosis and treatment, a Special Day could be early on in treatment, some wait until the end and for those with a very short time left, it’s something to make their final days or weeks easier. Whenever it happens, it’s always something positive to aim for.

After the Special Day, we encourage patients to share their experience – the photos and happy memories. A time of laughter and happiness when everything else is so hard.

Patients and their families really appreciate that Willow offers something that treats them as a person, not just their symptoms and medical needs – so often they feel defined by their illness as everything we provide is based on that. Medical professionals and patients alike feel fortunate to be part of a service that creates these precious memories and happy moments at a time when they can be so hard to come by.”

Working with the medical profession

During 2017, 1,200 medical professionals like Hannah referred more than 1,600 patients to Willow. Our two part-time Nurse Advisors build peer-to-peer relationships with a range of clinicians up and down the country including GPs, consultsnts, social workers and nurses. Our nurses raise awareness of our service to their medical peers, ensure eligibility of applicants and advise our Day Makers on the medical requirements and appropriateness of the chosen Special Day.

Key numbers...

1,800+ - the number of medical and eligibility checks last year
130+ - the average amount of applications received each month
1,000+ - the number of Special Days created every year

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