UNITY: The After Cure Choir was first set up in 2018 by Dr Michelle Kwok Williams, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Heather Berry, now retired, Clinical Nurse Specialist, both part of the Long Term Follow Up Service at Leeds Cancer Centre.

The pair recognised the need for a more fun and friendly peer support opportunity, outside of a clinical environment where survivors of childhood, teenage and young adult cancer could come together, sing, and build life-long friendships.

Read more: Supporting survivors of childhood cancer - Unity The After Cure Choir

Michelle Kwok Williams, who takes on the role of Choir Leader told us:

“We wanted to give our patients the opportunity to come together, make friends and share their experiences with others who have had similar journeys. UNITY offers peer support in a less medicalised situation, which our patients describe as ‘one big family’. The choir offers purpose, fun and friendship to those who are feeling isolated, as well as a huge sense of achievement, whilst raising funds for the amazing charities that support us."

Since 2019, the choir has been supported by Leeds Hospitals Charity, helping to fund equipment, music, t-shirts, refreshments, and advertising. The choir has also been generously supported by Candlelighters, Leeds Cancer Support and are able to practice in beautiful surroundings at Maggie’s Yorkshire.

Five years on, thanks to support from local charities, the choir has grown from strength to strength and now has up to 25 members who meet biweekly to practice together and perform throughout the year.

22-year-old Louis Moorhouse from Bradford has been part of UNITY since 2020, first joining in virtual sessions held during lockdown. Louis was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at just 18 months old, and thanks to the specialist care he received, was cancer free the following year, but chemotherapy treatment left him blind and partially deaf. Louis still receives ongoing care at the Long Term Follow Up Service at Leeds Cancer Centre.

Louis playing the piano in the Bexley Wing with his guide dog Kizzy

Read More: Cancer Stories - Louis

Despite the challenges he faces, Louis, a graduate from Leeds Beckett University, has dreams of becoming a music producer. He told us why he loves being part of the choir:

“I still go to the clinic for regular tests; they asked me if I wanted to join Unity to play the keyboard as I couldn’t sing. My dream is to become a music producer. Disability hasn’t stopped me pursuing my passion.”

“I’m thankful every day that I went along that first day to the choir. It’s the most amazing thing to be part of. We've all gone through cancer and come out the other side. It’s a family unit. I've never got close to that level of fulfilment from anything else. Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about that choir and the support it has given me.”

To celebrate their fifth birthday, the choir are hosting a six-hour sing-a-thon on Saturday 23rd September at Victoria Gate in Leeds. The event, taking place during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month will start at 11am and the choir hopes to raise £1,000 for their sponsor Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Donate to Unity's fundraising page here