Teenage Cancer Trust shows laughter the best medicine

Andrew also took part in a music workshop at event
Andrew also took part in a music workshop at event
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A young cancer sufferer from Edinburgh met the cream of British comedy at a special Royal Albert Hall event.

Andrew Tetley, 21, spent time with John Bishop, Kerry Godliman, Susie McCabe, Romesh Ranganathan, Tommy Tiernan, Seann Walsh as a guest of Teenage Cancer Trust.

The charity invites more than 100 young people who have had cancer to the Ultimate Backstage Experience during its annual week of gigs. It’s an afternoon filled with activities – from being involved in a creative music workshop, helping to write and perform a song with other young people, having a backstage tour of the Royal Albert Hall and meeting the performers before they go on stage.

Andrew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was 19. The dentistry student had been feeling poorly for a month and could barely get out of bed before deciding to see his GP. A few days later he had a blood test and was told he had severe anaemia.

He was sent to Beatson Hospital in Glasgow, and it was only when he was sent to the specialist Teenage Cancer Trust unit that he realised he had a diagnosis of cancer.

Andrew returned home to Edinburgh and was admitted to the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit at the Western General Hospital where he had intense chemotherapy from September 2017 to June 2018. He is now on maintenance treatment which means taking chemo tablets every day and has check-ups at the unit at the Beatson so that he can continue his university studies.

Speaking at the Royal Albert Hall, Andrew said: “Because of my cancer, I’ve not left Edinburgh for a few years so coming to London to partake in this amazing one-off experience with people who have also been affected by cancer, has been brilliant. It’s not every day you get to be involved in something like this, with people that really get what you’ve been through.

“When I was going through my cancer treatment, I knew other young people from Teenage Cancer Trust wards who had been given this opportunity, and I couldn’t wait for it to my turn. I’ve been really looking forward to today.

“In day-to-day life, you tend to hold back a bit. For example, you wouldn’t get everyone singing their hearts out, but at this event, Teenage Cancer Trust gave us the full VIP treatment and made everyone feel so welcome, we let our guards down. It’s been an absolute laugh and I’ve also made some new friends.”

Christine Jason, head of regional fundraising at Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who helps us put on these fantastic shows and put a spotlight on the thousands of young people living with cancer across the UK.

“Our annual gigs bring together the world’s biggest names in music and comedy to raise funds and support young people with cancer. It’s an unforgettable experience for the young people and the performers.”