Belfast Telegraph

Fun and laughter is the best medicine for children with cancer

By Maureen Coleman

Laughter is proving a vital tonic for children living with cancer, thanks to a Northern Irish theatre company's Home Visits scheme.

Cahoots NI staged a recent performance at Cancer Fund for Children's Daisy Lodge short break facility in Co Down.

The children and their parents were all enjoying a mid-week stay at the charity's new purpose-built centre at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

Madame Tip Top, Gordon Bleu and Toot from Cahoots NI performed the dazzling "Magic Menu" which included audience participation, magic tricks and music.

During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, the charity will be focusing on the effects of cancer that go beyond the medical implications and how activities such as a fun, interactive theatre show can enrich the lives of families living with the disease.

Ethel Grant from Donegal, whose little girl Caraiosa is living with cancer, said: "It was a good laugh, my three kids really enjoyed it.

"Laughter and happiness is very good medicine.

"Due to the risk of infection I would never be able to bring my little girl out to a theatre to see a play. But here, she can have that opportunity.

"My little boy was only nine months when my daughter was diagnosed, as a result we did not get out with him much and his ability to socially interact was affected.

"Short breaks and interactive performances like this are great for bringing kids out of their shells.

"I have been at the end of my tether recently and this break at Daisy Lodge has given the family a chance to just relax and recharge. It's been great."

Cancer Fund for Children Specialist Phil Alexander added: "Cahoots NI's performance provided families staying at Daisy Lodge with a wonderful experience that was filled with laughter, fun and magic."

Cahoots NI also provides free-of-charge home visits to children accessing support from Cancer Fund for Children.

Christina Nelson, who plays Madame Tip Top, said: "Home Visits are all about providing fun and laughter and happy memories for children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Not all children in treatment can enjoy an outing because concerns about infection keep them isolated at home.

"This prompted Paul Bosco McEneaney, founder and artistic director of Cahoots NI, to create a bespoke project which would be taken directly to the family to give everybody 'a visit to the theatre' in the environment that suits their circumstances best – their own home."

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