WHO Cares Cancer TrustLegendary rockers Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the Who have come to the UCLA Medical Center to launch the first teen-and-young-adults-only cancer treatment unit in the United States.

The Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program will serve patients ages 15 to 25 following on the successful efforts of the Teenage Cancer Trust, which has helped fund 19 special youth cancer centers in the United Kingdom.

The belief is that teenagers and young adults shouldn’t stop enjoying their youth just because they have cancer.

Instead of being hospitalized with children in a pediatric unit or with seniors in adult oncology, teens in the Daltrey/Townshend program will be housed in adjoining patient rooms that surround a large common lounge for hanging out with their peers. The units are designed to provide, as closely as possible, a normal life, bringing young people together so they can be themselves first, and gather with other young people coping with cancer care.

“At a time when your body is changing, your social life is everything and you’re still trying to figure out who you are, getting cancer can seem like an impossible blow to take,” Daltrey said.

Rock icon Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who has been closely involved with the program in the U.K., has also lent his support to the new UCLA program.

Roger Daltrey Cancer Center visitWe hope to bring the success of the U.K. program and provide the caring and support that have made a huge difference in the lives of many teens and young adults who are battling cancer,” Plant said.

The UK’s young adult spaces provide games, kitchens, computers, all in an environment that actually produces better medical outcomes for patients staying there.

The Daltrey/Townshend program will be supported by Who Cares, a fundraising initiative for fans of the Who, started so that the band could respond quickly to charitable causes. Through Who Cares, Daltrey and Townshend have helped raise millions of dollars with a series of annual all-star concerts.

An special private concert tonight, featuring Daltrey, Plant and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters will help raise funds for the new program. In addition, a portion of each ticket sale from Daltrey’s current “Tommy” tour in Canada and the U.S. will be donated to the new project.

“We believe that teenagers have a much better chance in their fight against cancer if they are treated in a compassionate environment tailored to their needs,” Daltrey said. “I hope that our fans will really get behind Who Cares and do their bit to make a difference to young people living with cancer.”

UCLA is exploring an early expansion of the program to teens and young adults receiving in-patient cancer care at Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center.

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