| 8.9°C Belfast

Family fears what future holds as Magherafelt teen has cancer relapse


Ozzie Rogers with dad Simon and mum Miranda

Ozzie Rogers with dad Simon and mum Miranda

Ozzie Rogers with dad Simon and mum Miranda

The mother of a teenage boy who has just received a heartbreaking cancer re-diagnosis said she fears what awaits her family in the weeks and months ahead.

Ozzie Rogers (16) from Magherafelt has already overcome major battles against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, but mum Miranda fears the help he had to make it through simply will not be there this time due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Ozzie's plight comes days after CO3, an umbrella group representing third sector leaders, warned that over three quarters of charities were reporting "serious financial difficulties" and 38% had an "unstable" cash flow.

Calling for more support for cancer services, Miranda said her family have been left devastated.

Ozzie was at the centre of a community effort in Magherafelt after residents came out in force to sign up as stem cell donors at an event hosted by the local rugby club at Rainey Old Boys at the end of 2018.

Ozzie Rogers

A donor from the UK was eventually found and after a successful transplant Ozzie was in remission, but his mother always feared the cancer would return.

"We've now had the devastating news his cancer is back," she said.

"Prior to lockdown CLIC Sargent was able to provide Homes from Home in Belfast at the Royal and City Hospitals.

"We understand both these houses might not be available to families because of Covid-19.

"Also, when a child or young person is admitted to hospital, support workers from Cancer Fund for Children would visit to help support and stimulate the children. All this has gone now and staff furloughed.

"Ozzie will be going into hospital within the next week - a time when only one parent will be allowed in.

"It has been hard enough during lockdown at home and goodness knows how cancer patients will cope mentally with vital services suddenly stripped back."

The Cancer Fund for Children said it is doing everything possible to maintain services during the crisis.

"This is a time when vulnerable children and young people need our support more than ever and yet we are faced by a 90% drop in our income," a spokesperson said.

With a high percentage of staff having to be placed on furlough, that has meant many essential services have now had to be stopped.

"We currently cannot deliver home visits, face to face individual support and groupwork, residentials and therapeutic short breaks at Daisy Lodge for the whole family," the spokesperson said.

"But we still want to do as much as we can with the resources we have."

Tracy Cosgrave, associate director of services at CLIC Sargent, said: "Our social workers are dealing with an unprecedented demand for support from anxious families but we are seeing a 60% drop in our income over the next six months.

"Many families we support were already at financial breaking point. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, CLIC Sargent has given out over £45,000 in hardship grants to families struggling to afford the essentials.

"CLIC Sargent is also fighting hard to keep our Homes from Home open so that parents have somewhere to stay for free and be close to their child during their treatment.

"We have new safety measures in place and are undertaking procedures to ensure they can remain open."

Belfast Telegraph