Weather Icon 6.9°C Overcast
Faces of Ward 84.
Friday 13th June 2014 @ 08:30 by Anna Fletcher


On Christmas Eve in 2012 Eleanor Massey and her partner Spencer Bannister’s lives changed when her two year old son, Jacob, was diagnosed with cancer.

Now she is sharing her story and others on the Facebook page Faces of Ward 84 created by her and other parents, which refers to the oncology and haematology ward at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital as well as raising money running the Race for Life.

The idea came from the no make-up selfies campaign that raised money for Cancer Research towards the beginning of this year.

Eleanor said: “There was a lot of discussion around the selfies on various forums amongst parents. A few people were upset by it and offended and felt like they didn’t really understand the relevance of no make-up, could it be in some way compared with a child with no hair or no eyelashes.

“Some people thought it was a little self-indulgent and that perhaps people weren’t donating as well as taking the picture, so it sparked a lot of discussion.

“It got me and other parents thinking that maybe people would benefit more from seeing the real face of cancer so I shared some pictures of Jacob when he was in the tough part of his treatment.”

Other parents began to do the same and Eleanor came up with the idea of creating a Facebook page where people could share a picture of their child along with their story whilst at the same time raising awareness of symptoms.

Before launching the Facebook page in mid-March Eleanor collected 60 stories and within the first three hours of it being launched there were 1000 likes. Now the page has over 5000 followers and many more stories.

Eleanor said: “It has been great to share the stories and the symptoms of these conditions. People don’t really like to ask, but as soon as I start talking about it you can see their ears prick up because they want to know for themselves.”

It was important to Eleanor that each story also said where each person was from.

She explains why: “It was really important to me. I always think you see these posts flying around the internet with 10,000 likes and comments and it might be about someone in America, so it’s not close to me.

“It’s really shocked me since Jacob has been diagnosed just how many children in one hospital in one city, its real people from our neighbourhoods. These are the children that are in the park, the parents that are in the supermarket, these are your neighbours, this is Denton and Ashton and Gorton.

Eleanor and Jacob, along with family and friends also ran in the recent Race for Life together as Team Blue.

Eleanor said: “It’s been monumental for us in the fact that he’s here and he’s mobile. To take part and to have done so well, I didn’t think he’d manage but he did, he walked and we were at the back but he did it.

“I was just completely amazed and anytime he was struggling I carried him and my family helped me carry him and I thought it was quite symbolic really because I felt like I carried him through his treatment and had the people around me to help as well.”

PICTURED: Faces of Ward 84. Alex from Stockport, Amelia from Denton, Aoife from Stockport, Eleanor and Jacob, Elizabeth from Gorton, Ethan from Denton, Isobel from Gorton, Leo from Stockport, Niamh from Hyde, Ruby from Denton and Ruby Mae from Denton.


More on this story in this week’s (12th June) Tameside Reporter out now.