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Animated film designed to help parents explain cancer diagnosis to their children

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Those behind a new communications initiative are hoping that specialist nurses will signpost cancer patients to a new animation designed to help parents talk to their children about their diagnosis.

The animation is the “first of its kind”, according to the UCLH Cancer Collaborative, a “vanguard” site for the national cancer strategy based at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“We wanted to produce something that was accessible to every cancer patient”

Caroline Leek

The vanguard has teamed up with the Fruit Fly Collective to launch the short animated film, which can be used to guide parents through discussions on their diagnosis with children of different ages.

The vanguard noted that explaining a cancer diagnosis to their child was one of the hardest things a parent can do.

But it said, that with the right support, children were very good at coping, and talking to each other as a family could really help children at this difficult time.

The animation uses a cartoon family to give practical tips on helping parents tell children they have cancer.

Evidence showed people responded positively to messages that may be frightening, sensitive or confusing when the information behind them was delivered in a cartoon-like format, noted the vanguard.

Marie Curie

Cartoon helps parents explain cancer diagnosis to children

Source: UCLH Cancer Collaborative/Fruit Fly Collective

Children’s emotions in response to the news

The animation has also been made into a comic-book for parents, and flyers informing people about the film will be distributed throughout the NHS in London.

A spokeswoman said: “We are keen to get the message out to nurses, particularly CNSs, so that they can signpost patients to the animation.

“There is no other film of its kind currently available, as far as we are aware,” she said.

Caroline Leek, director of the Fruit Fly Collective, added: “We wanted to produce something that was accessible to every cancer patient, regardless of their cultural background, or level of health literacy.

“We decided to use animation as this format offers us a simple, easy to follow, method of getting the necessary message across, it is at once comforting and familiar to the patient, whilst at the same time allowing this very important information to be taken in and processed,” she said.

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