BRADLEY Lowery’s mum Gemma has made a heartfelt plea to all political party leaders to commit to a young cancer patient travel fund if they become the next Prime Minister.

Gemma, who is chief executive of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, was backing a call from the cancer charity Clic Sargent’s for the fund to help families struggling with the huge costs of travelling to hospital - something she and her family experienced during Bradley’s cancer treatment.

New research by Clic Sargent found that families of young cancer patients are struggling to keep a roof over their heads or heat their homes because of the huge cost of taking their child to hospital.

In the last 12 months, 4,450 young cancer patients and their families across the UK have together spent around £5 million simply travelling to treatment.

Bradley was just 18-months-old when he was diagnosed with the rare cancer neuroblastoma in January 2013. His plight garnered international attention and he became club mascot for his favourite football club, Sunderland AFC, forming a strong bond with the club’s then striker Jermain Defoe.

After Bradley passed away in July 2017, Gemma set up the Bradley Lowery Foundation in his memory. The foundation aims to support families who are fundraising for treatment or equipment, which is not readily available or covered by the NHS. It also supports research into neuroblastoma and childhood cancers.

Gemma has revealed how her family’s finances took a huge hit when Bradley was diagnosed with cancer, with travel costs having a devastating impact.

The family had to make frequent trips from home in Blackhall Colliery, County Durham, to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) hospital in Newcastle. The journey was around 60 miles round-trip, taking up to an hour each time.

She says: “My anxiety and my husband’s anxiety was through the roof because sometimes we didn’t know how we were going to pay the mortgage at the end of the month. I fundraised for treatment for Bradley, but not once did I take any money for cost of living. I got in a lot of debt and I got in a lot of arrears. The stress it causes is not acceptable.”

Speaking about families who are paying hundreds or thousands of pounds a year to take their child to hospital for treatment, Gemma says: “These families are struggling on a day-to-day basis to be able to get their child to hospital for essential treatment to save their lives… These families need a travel fund now.”

Young cancer patients have to travel to specialist cancer centres across the UK for cancer treatment, which is often not available at their local hospital. This means families are burdened with an average round-trip of 60 miles to get to and from hospital for treatment, spending at least £180 a month on petrol. Other families are forced to pay out hundreds in taxi fares or public transport costs.

The length of cancer treatment for young people varies from months to over three years, which can mean hundreds of journeys back and forth to the hospital.

As well as getting to and from hospital, families face other added costs when a child is diagnosed with cancer, spending an average of £600 a month extra, on top of everyday expenses and bills. The biggest expenses families face other than travel include food, hospital car parking, energy bills and car-related costs.

Costs are hitting families at a time where parents may have had to give up work or cut their hours to be with their child.

Clic Sargent chief executive Kate Lee at CLIC Sargent, said: “Parents shouldn’t have to live in fear about whether they can afford to take their child to hospital for life-saving treatment when they are already terrified for their child’s health.

“Families are facing countless journeys to and from the hospital for treatment, often stretching over years. They are at breaking point - scraping together pennies, borrowing money from family and friends, relying on charitable grants. We’re asking all party leaders to listen to young cancer patients and their families and commit to a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund if they become the next Prime Minister.”

For more information and to join the call for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund, go to: