Today is World Cancer Day. I cannot help but be sad and think back to the time when I spent a full year in hospital with my daughter Leigh-Anne when she was only five years old. She had always been a poorly baby, being born with a dodgy hip that required her to wear a harness for the first year of her life and then suffering infection after infection, always seemingly being on antibiotics.

Despite her picking up practically every childhood ailment, we were totally shocked when one Christmas she became so unwell she went yellow, her stomach distended and she got cold sores all over her body. We rushed her to our local hospital where we spent several days trying to pick up what was wrong with her and only getting deflected answers.

When we were told that Leigh-Anne was being transferred from our local hospital, to Jimmy’s at Leeds, we knew it had to be something serious. Like any concerned parent I did some googling of the symptoms and was in total denial about the answers that came scrolling in the search results in front of me. It was only when the consultant pulled my wife aside and sat her down and released the devastating news that Leigh-Anne had high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and if we had left her hospital visit any longer we may have been too late.

I had popped to Morrisons with my mother to collect something to eat when my wife called me, she said she needed me as soon as possible, but I pushed and forced her to tell me over the phone. I stood there silently for a few seconds as the news sunk in, did she really just say our little girl has leukaemia – my mind raced, thinking it only affected children from Chernobyl. Then as the news started to sink in, I dropped my phone, fell to the floor and screamed, my daughter had cancer and was going to die.

Too shocked to drive, my father drove me over to St. James’ and I couldn’t help but cry as I walked down the corridor of the children’s cancer ward and saw children looking so poorly, then I got to my wife and we just hugged and cried together for what felt like hours, but was only a minute or two.

We visited the consultant together where we were told about the type of cancer that Leigh-Anne, the treatment plan and how we were not to worry as she would be going a treatment regime with positive outcomes for many children. At that time I could not take in what was being said, my wife and I just sat there trying to understand what would be happening, how the treatment would be taking over our lives for the next few years – our whole life was going to revolve around the treatment plan.

I will not go into the treatment in this post, but if you read, Leigh-Annes story here you will see that the journey was a hard and difficult one with many bumps in the road to her recovery. Leigh-Anne is now about to reach her 18th birthday but will need long term care for the rest of her life.

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