Where to start.
Went in to the doctors with Harper our youngest boy at the weekend when we found he had a combination of an unusual rash and wasn’t well. The doctor said he thought it should be looked at by a specialist and sent us off to Dorchester hospital. Here we discovered that what may be wrong with Harper is that he has leukaemia.
This was a bit of a shock as you might imagine and Rachel and Harper were taken in an ambulance to Southampton General hospital to a specialist oncology ward – Piam Brown ward to await a bone-marrow biopsy. I have to say up front that the staff there were all, without exception, as helpful, friendly and kind as one could possibly hope for.
Harper endured many blood tests and didn’t enjoy canulars being fitted (can’t blame him the poor thing). What they were looking for was evidence of leukaemic cells, cells that shouldn’t be there, and they couldn’t say for certain from looking at the blood only – this was why a look at some bone-marrow was required.
Rachel and I didn’t really know what to think. The biopsy was on the Tuesday at about ten and we had a dream-like day hopping between feeling positive and strong enough to cope and feeling tearful and fearful of the unknown. Talking to the other parents around the ward was extremely comforting and we met some lovely people.
Elliot our other boy was such an enormous help. He was patient, funny and kind to his brother and I have no doubt he was pretty hacked-off with being shut indoors the whole time.
I’ll cut to the quick and say that Harper’s bone-marrow didn’t show signs of luekaemia and so with no real time to establish what on earth was going on, we were let off the hook, so to speak.
My main reason for writing this up here is to pass on details of the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
They provide all sorts of help for families and for the children themselves and we even benefitted from their help in our short period of limbo there in Southampton in being allowed to stay in a house they have, Clic Haven next to the hospital, which is a peaceful haven in which to hide from the stress of being away from home with so much of your energy being used up in caring for your wonderful children. If you can imagine yourself having been on your feet all day and finally being allowed to sit down, this is Clic Haven only many times magnified.
Writing this up, I’m having a job recalling what we went through.
My Dad, Arthur, died in 2000 of a luekaemia (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) and I feel that now’s the time to make a bit of effort and help cancer charities much more than I do, in whatever way I can. We were fortunate of course and many families who have children with cancer, many who we met, will continue to need lots of energy and help (and sleep!) to make sure they can continue to see the various treatments through. Luekaemia is a very treatable cancer by all accounts and there’s great leaps of progress being made in the search for treatments and cures for all cancers.
Thankyou to the staff of the Piam Brown ward at the Southampton General Hospital. In some respects, to be there is a fortunate thing. You couldn’t hope to be in better hands.