A talented Graphic Design student, who tragically died the day after he was diagnosed with a type of cancer called sarcoma, has inspired an awareness-raising initiative involving Northumbria University students and the charity Sarcoma UK.
Jamie McClusky had just completed the first year of his Graphic Design degree at Northumbria when recurring symptoms of an upset stomach began causing him severe pain and discomfort. The 19-year-old, who moved from home near Bolton to study in Newcastle upon Tyne, died in hospital on 1 September 2021 after a three-week acute illness.
Sarcomas are uncommon cancers that can affect any part of the body, on the inside or outside, including the muscle, bone, tendons, blood vessels and tissues.
And with 15 people diagnosed with sarcoma every day in the UK, Jamie’s devastated family and friends and girlfriend, Jess Hulme, are determined to help raise awareness of the disease which is currently the third most common cancer diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults.
‘We’ve all been moved by Jamie’s story so who better to develop ideas for impactful awareness raising campaigns to reach young people, than some of the current Graphic Design students at Northumbria?’ explained Andrew Frith, an Assistant Professor from Northumbria School of Design who has led the module designed for this year’s second year students called Can Graphic Design Save Lives?
‘Students have worked to meet the objective of raising awareness in Jamie’s memory and, through a live brief, have come up with their own design ideas to tackle the issue. Staff from Sarcoma UK have overseen the work and supported students by giving regular feedback and offering the possibility for some of the campaign ideas to be commissioned and brought to life.’
Among the ideas devised by Northumbria students are postal campaigns in the form of pizza boxes, calendars featuring key information designed to target GP surgeries and vivid spot-shaped posters designed for street furniture that grow to catch public attention.
Jamie’s mother, Sarah Scoffield, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see Sarcoma UK working with the University and the Graphic Design students in particular.
‘Jamie loved his time at Northumbria. He had a great group of friends and loved the people in Newcastle. He made it clear he enjoyed it so much he wanted to live there.
‘As a family, we have been absolutely devastated by his death, so we are very keen to have something positive come out of it.
‘It feels important that we do everything we can to raise awareness of the symptoms of sarcoma, among all sorts of groups of people including students and young people, GPs and the wider general public.’
Jamie’s family have chosen to share his story this July, during Sarcoma Awareness Month, as they prepare to attend one of Northumbria’s summer Congregation ceremonies later this week (13 July), where they will collect a posthumous award in his honour.
Enda Guinan, Digital Communications Manager at Sarcoma UK, said: ‘Sadly, Jamie was one of the 370 young people diagnosed with sarcoma cancer in the UK each year. There is a serious problem with recognising the symptoms early enough to act, so raising awareness is of vital importance for us.
‘We were bowled over when we learned that Jamie’s peers at Northumbria University had elected to create awareness-raising campaigns in his memory and even more impressed when we saw the creative, imaginative and compelling work they came up with. We are enormously grateful to them, the staff at Northumbria and Jamie’s family for the rare opportunity to make something positive out of this tragedy.’
Since Jamie’s death, thousands of pounds has been raised for Sarcoma UK in his memory by friends and family who are determined to make a difference. They have already taken on Ironman challenges, walked and cycled hundreds of miles across the country, and organised raffles and bake sales to support the charity’s Love for Jamie Group Fund.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of sarcoma this Sarcoma Awareness Month by visiting sarcoma.org.uk/size.
If you would like to talk to someone, you can contact our Support Line on 0808 801 0401, firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07860 058830