Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Star Search to Aid Cancer Teenagers; Contest Will Help Build Ward on Tyneside MUSIC MEANS LIFE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Star Search to Aid Cancer Teenagers; Contest Will Help Build Ward on Tyneside MUSIC MEANS LIFE

Article excerpt

Byline: By Audrey Barton

A MUSIC competition has been launched in the North-East in the hope of raising pounds 1m to improve facilities for teenage cancer patients.

Music Means Life kicked off yesterday with the aim of creating a new teenage cancer unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The interactive competition will see the region's budding musical talent upload their music file entries to the internet and Journal readers will be able to view some of the acts on our website www.journallive.co.uk and post their opinions.

The new competition, backed by The Journal as partner, will be judged by three teenage cancer sufferers who will decide who goes through to the final in April. Money raised will benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is establishing a unit in Newcastle.

North-East fundraising manager for the Teenage Cancer Trust Heather Burns-Mace said: "In this country the way the Health Service is structured means teenagers don't exist. If you are under 16, you are treated as a child and over 16 as an adult. It really is vital that we build this ward so that they can be teenagers rather than cancer patients."

The present teenage cancer unit at the RVI was the first run by the Teenage Cancer Trust outside London.

Thanks to its success, a new unit is being built this year to increase the number of beds from six to a possible 10 under modernisation plans called Transforming the Newcastle Hospitals.

Michael Balfour, 16, of South Shields is judging the competition after successfully fighting a cancer which formed behind his nose. He said: "I was an inpatient on the RVI ward and it makes a world of difference being with other teenagers as you can relate to them and they spur you to carry on."

He will be joined by fellow judges Rachel Drew, 20, of Darras Hall, Ponteland, who has seen off bone cancer, and Melissa Cavanagh, 17, of Sunderland who is in remission from Hodgkin's disease lymphoma.

Gary Thompson, of VIP Needs Ltd, who came up with the idea, said: "Music Means Life is the ideal platform for teenagers to get involved and more importantly, to bring about awareness of teenage cancer in the North-East. …

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