Camp Simcha is highlighting the problems faced by families of young cancer patients over commuting costs for their children’s treatment.
The organisation — assisting families with seriously ill children — is supporting a report by leading children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent to mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The report calls on the government to help families cope with the cost of the “cancer commute”.
To illustrate the issue, Camp Simcha — which provides free transport for more than 2,500 hospital journeys annually — has cited an example from its own caseload.
Mia Horne from Canvey Island was diagnosed with an optic glioma brain tumour at the age of five and was put on an 18-month course of chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Her mother Michelle said “public transport was not an option because it would have involved two buses and two trains, which would have been especially difficult because Mia lost her vision as a result of the tumour.
“We had one car and a four-month-old baby when she was diagnosed, so driving was also tricky because one of us had to be at home with our youngest.
“As well as the treatments, there were scans, tests and unplanned admissions at Gosh. So we were constantly back and forth to the hospital and the cost of getting taxis was just too much for us. Even if Mia had been up to taking public transport, that would have been a huge expense, too.
“The Camp Simcha hospital transport was such a lifeline. At a time when we had so much worry and stress, they took this added burden away from us.”
Mrs Horne added that just over a year ago, Mia, now 12, had to resume weekly chemotherapy at Gosh.
“She started having seizures and other complications because of the chemo.
“On one occasion, just as we reached the hospital she started having a seizure. If I had been driving her on my own and that had happened, what would I have done?”
Camp Simcha head of services Daniel Gillis said the report showed “that many children and young people with cancer have to travel on average 60 miles to and from hospital for treatment. There is no government-funded transport provision for this.
“Using public transport or dealing with a long walk from where you have parked to the hospital when your child is undergoing chemotherapy, weak and immune-system compromised, is not an option.
“This is why Camp Simcha runs its hospital transport service. Nearly all the families we support with childhood cancer have used it at points in their child’s treatment.”