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Edge Hill researchers receive funding boost to improve lives of children diagnosed with cancer

Edge Hill University researchers have received a major funding boost to help children diagnosed with cancer and their families “thrive and not just survive”.

The North West Cancer Research Fund has awarded the Edge Hill team £122,864 to undertake a two-year research project, the Thrive study, focused on improving health information and support for children and young people diagnosed with cancer and their families during and after treatment.

Cancer remains the leading disease-related cause of death among children and young people aged up to 24 years, presenting emotional and practical burdens that extend far beyond diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Katherine Knighting, Reader in Supportive and Palliative Care and project lead for Edge Hill said:

“We are delighted to be working with families and colleagues from leading charity The Joshua Tree and healthcare services on this important study. We want to understand what support interventions work best for children and families affected by childhood cancer and their priorities for information and support during and after cancer treatment.”

Across the North West and North Wales there are approximately 475 new cases of childhood cancer each year and 4,000 children and young people who are living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis.

The Thrive study will work with children and young people with cancer, their families and professionals to develop a better understanding of what support interventions are available and which work best for families during and after treatment, and bereavement. It will also work on family priorities to improve support interventions and make recommendations for childhood cancer services, policies, and future research.

The Edge Hill team, which will work with a parent researcher, will be led by Dr Katherine Knighting with support from researchers Dr Julie Feather, Dr Holly Saron and Professor Lucy Bray.

The team have partnered with: Richard Driffield and Danielle Percival from The Joshua Tree, a charity that supports families with childhood cancer; Dr James Hayden and Chelsea Harvell from Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust; and Dr John Archer, Professor Ed Smith and Sally Falk from The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

A child and family advisory board and steering group will also work with the team to ensure that family experience is at the heart of the project and the findings are focused on what is most important to them and future service development.

Richard Driffield, CEO of the Joshua Tree, said:

“Everyone at The Joshua Tree is excited to be partnering with North West Cancer Research, Edge Hill University, Alder Hey Hospital, and The Christie to carry out this innovative two-year research project to better understand the emotional impact of a childhood cancer diagnosis.

“This new research project aligns perfectly with The Joshua Tree’s core values and will directly complement the vital work we do supporting families affected by childhood cancers.

“Together, we aim to use this research to enhance the support available to diagnosed children and their families, ensuring we continue to make a lasting impact to their long-term health and wellbeing.”

To find out more about the study, go to: