Help Rockinghorse improve mental health support for children with cancer

A Sussex charity is appealing for donations so it can continue providing vital psychological support to children and young people during their treatment for cancer.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 3:25 pm
Dr Alice Emond is the Rockinghorse Clinical Psychologist at the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton.

Last year, Rockinghorse appointed a paediatric clinical psychologist for the oncology service at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton.

Referrals continue to increase, highlighting the need for the vital support given by the unit.

By integrating clinical psychologists into paediatric care, the charity can ensure that the emotional wellbeing of children and families are both assessed and addressed.

Dr Alice Emond joined the team in July 2018 as the Rockinghorse Clinical Psychologist.

She is specially trained to support children of all ages with a cancer diagnosis, supporting their mental health and wellbeing. Alice supports children and their family members to cope with the diagnosis, intensive treatment procedures, and emotional and behavioural challenges, and works with families and the medical team to promote resilience and adjustment.

“This support is offered from diagnosis and throughout treatment and post-treatment, helping children and their families readjust and reintegrate back into their lives outside of hospital,” she said.

“It is well recognised that physical health difficulties can cause considerable impact on psychological wellbeing.

“A diagnosis of cancer can have a significant impact on the whole family.

“Helping them to understand and work through the challenges together is so important in promoting resilience during their journey.”

Kerry Leppard from Haywards Heath is one such parent receiving support from Dr Alice Emond.

Her daughter, Florence, was diagnosed with a rare liver tumour at two-years-old and has undergone seven cycles of chemotherapy.

This was followed by vital surgery to remove the tumour along with two thirds of her liver.

After the surgery, the family struggled to find help supporting Florence.

“In the aftermath of Florence’s cancer, my husband John and I were struggling to support her,” Kerry said.

“Florence’s situation is like her cancer – rare. Dr Alice Emond has been supporting Florence for six months now and provides a safe place for Florence to be heard and understood.

“Whilst putting her at the centre of the treatment, the sessions are equipping us all with the tools to respond to challenges in a supportive way.

“The impact has been quite amazing, and we are very grateful.

Kerry says the support given to her daughter and family, and many other families, ‘would not exist without Rockinghorse’.

Earlier this year, the charity increased the service by an extra day o that Dr Emond can reach more children and their families.

Rockinghorse is encouraging supporters to get involved in a fundraising event this Christmas to help raise funds for the appeal.

To find out more visit the charity’s website.