I've been part of the Christian Lewis Trust for many years now and when I joined the small team I was very touched by the caring, personal, individual, unconditional support offered to families. This has become an essential part of us - the core of all we do. In this society where bureaucracy sometimes appears to have gone mad and people are given labels, we remember that everyone is an individual, with their own fears, concerns, loves and needs. As a charity we care, and try to respond to every request for help that we receive in a positive manner. We listen to the request and are guided by what this parent or child wants or needs at this moment in their life, and not what we, as an organisation, think they need or should be doing.
We always use a child centered and family centered approach in all we do. This involves looking beyond the narrower confines, and understanding why a child wants, for example, to "build a sandcastle" at the seaside. A simple request that could so easily be ignored, by the parents or by us, as being insignificant.
However just look behind this wish and what do you see? You see a child who has spent many months in hospital, confined to bed and unable to sit up on its own, let alone walk. Parents who have spent just as long at the hospital, desperate that this time the treatment will work. When this child does build their "sandcastle", they will have achieved so much. Hopes and dreams are so important and must never be underestimated. Therefore, if a child wants to "build a sandcastle" we will continue to care enough to encourage their hope and to try and help them to achieve their goal.
The past 20 years have been very rewarding and we have been privileged to be able to help many children affected by cancer and their families. Some children are still receiving treatment their future as yet unknown, some have since died and others are now in remission. I would like to share with you some of these children who we have supported and how we helped them to build their own special "sandcastle". For reasons of confidentiality their names have been changed but their stories are factual.