The Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre

Did you know that of all children who die with cancer, 1 in 3 will die not because of the cancer, but because of the side effects of treatment? Worse still, research into reducing these side effects for children is under-resourced, sparse, and inadequate.

Amazing progress has been made in understanding and treating childhood cancers. Today, around 80% of children or young people diagnosed with cancer survive.

But despite advances in curative medicine, little has been done to improve the experience of living through and beyond cancer. Children often receive cancer treatments designed for adults and the impact on their smaller bodies can be severe. They suffer horrible side effects which can be traumatic, permanent, and even deadly.

Meet Ralph

Six-year-old Ralph has T-cell lymphoma.

The treatment he’s receiving is incredibly effective; it began immediately and he is responding well to it. But it’s shocking to see what the side effects are doing to his little body...

The chemotherapy is aggressive and makes him sick. It decays his teeth and five have to be removed. His skin is sore and painful to touch. His immune system is severely suppressed, and he develops sepsis. Ralph’s mum, Cleo says, “No one can prepare you for the side effects. He couldn’t walk, he swelled up from steroids, he would scream in agony.

If the side effects of Ralph’s treatment aren’t controlled properly, there’s even a risk he could die. We urgently need better ways to care for Ralph that will limit his side effects, reduce his suffering, and improve his quality of life and chance of survival.

The care Ralph needs doesn’t exist yet – but it will.

Introducing the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre

Developing effective, kinder care is the best and fastest way to improve the lives of children with cancer and increase their chances of survival. The research that will help us do this is called supportive care.


What is Supportive Care?

Supportive care refers to everything except the treatment of the cancer itself. Supportive care includes preventing side effects of treatment, managing pain and reducing infection. It’s the care that gives children as full a life as possible.


We know research makes a difference. After all, because of research, the five-year survival rate for children’s cancers increased from 73% to 86% between 1997 and 2016. Now, we’re establishing the first Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre (CSCRC) at the University of York to develop effective, kinder care for young people with cancer, which will save lives, reduce suffering, and bring hope.

The CSCRC will enable the world’s leading supportive care experts to carry out high-quality research. It will invest in future supportive care specialists. And it will save lives, reduce suffering and bring hope to young people with cancer – not just in Yorkshire, but around the world.

As part of our commitment to childhood cancer research, we’ve worked closely with experts to identify the huge impact that can be made through improved supportive care. We believe our Research Centre can change the landscape of cancer care and transform what it means to undergo cancer treatment as a child.

Here, a team of experts will conduct high-value research which will rapidly advance the care of children and young people with cancer. Creating the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre is a five-year project which will cost just under £1m. Together, we can make it a reality.

In the last 25 years alone we have invested over £11m into childhood cancer research, to improve early diagnosis, survival rates, treatments and quality of life, and develop experts for the future. Now, we want to take our commitment to the next level,

What impact will the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre have?

In the short term, we will look at how to minimise hospital stays, prevent severe mucositis (mouth ulcers) and prevent nausea and vomiting. In the long-term (5-15 years), we aim to see:

  • A team of new, capable researchers who will take studies to the next level.
  • Fewer children and young people dying from side effects caused by cancer treatment.
  • Better nutritional interventions and improved psychological and social support.
  • Sustainable generation of grant income to continue to produce high-quality research.
  • A Yorkshire-based, world-class centre of excellence in research, impacting global care.

We want to ensure young people and their families are at the heart of our research. To learn more about how you can have your say on the research the centre will do, visit here.

We're currently looking for people, businesses or foundations who may be able to help with funding support for this ground-breaking research. If you would like to be involved or would like to find out more, email [email protected].

Our stories

Share A Card is back for 2018!
09-11-18Our stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
You can support Candlelighters this Christmas by opting in to take part in our Share A Card scheme! The Share a Card is a large A4 card, which can make its way around your work place, family, friends and groups, enabling each individual to write and personalise their own festive message. This year our Share …
Experiences of volunteers in a childhood cancer charity
17-10-18Our stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
Recent research undertaken by a doctoral student at Leeds University, Rachael Eastlaugh, highlights the value of volunteering at Candlelighters. The research firstly looked at motivations for volunteering at Candlelighters and identified three main reasons. These reasons included recognition that the charity works in an emotionally challenging area, that some had used services and felt they …
Cottage magically comes to life!
11-10-18Our stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
A children’s book, launched last night, has been written to thrill and comfort children staying at the new Candlelighters Cottage, a home from home provision provided by the charity to enable families to be able to stay together when their child is an in-patient receiving treatment for cancer at Leeds Children’s Hospital. The book was …
Art work brings “Hope” to Cottage garden
08-10-18Our stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
A new art installation has been revealed in the garden at the Candlelighters Cottage for families staying at the home from home accommodation to enjoy. The cottage will enable families to stay together when their child is being treated at Leeds Children’s Hospital for cancer. The artwork is aptly titled “Hope”; made from steel the …
CCAM 2018: Summary
28-09-18Our stories • Posted by Candlelighters Marketing
As September comes to an end, so does Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Here are some of the amazing things people have been doing this CCAM to raise funds and awareness for Candlelighters. Clare and Natalie went to London to visit parliament to discuss awareness around early diagnosis, signs and symptoms of childhood cancer. We held …
Candlelighters Cottage Official Opening
24-09-18Our stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
The Candlelighters Cottage, a new home from home accommodation to be provided by the charity for families with a child as an inpatient being treated for cancer at Leeds Children’s Hospital, officially opened last week. Margaret Ingram, CEO of The Kentown Wizard Foundation, cut the ribbon after everyone was welcomed by the charity’s Chair of …

Your stories

Kathy takes on The London Marathon!
14-12-18Your stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
Kathy will be taking on the London Marathon in 2019 to raise money for Candlelighters!   Read her story below:     Why are you running for Candlelighters? I am running the marathon to raise money and awareness for Candlelighters an amazing charity who have made a difference to our lives over the last 18 …
Zara gets the chop in her Fund-Razor Challenge!
12-12-18Your stories • Posted by Sean Donnelly
Zara recently took on a ‘fund-razing’ challenge and had her long hair chopped off and donated to The Little Princess Trust whilst also raising money for Candlelighters! Read Zara’s story below!   Tell us more about what you did… I decided to take part and completed the ‘Fund-Razor’ challenge on the 1st December in the …
I’m a Gecko Get Me Out of Here!
05-10-18Your stories • Posted by Candlelighters Marketing
On 7th September, our wonderful supporters Gecko had a staff BBQ and social at their premises in Yeadon.  To add a fundraising element, they decided to hold interdepartmental Bush Tucker Trials!  Six courses were served to participants for each of the four teams, including “Locust Linguine”, “Buffalo Worm Salad”, and last but not least, “Bug-ble …
Give a Gift Raises £6000 by Climbing Mount Snowdon for Candlelighters
20-09-18Your stories • Posted by Candlelighters Marketing
Last weekend 29 people challenged themselves to climb to the summit of Mount Snowdon in order to raise money to support children with cancer in Yorkshire. Together they have raised over £6000 in support of Candlelighters, who support children and families in Yorkshire affected by childhood cancer.   Rifhat Malik, from Give a Gift said …