Lucy A
Posted by

Diagnosis - July 2014

Lucy A
Posted by
18 Nov 2014

A brief timeline of events on the day of Ruby's diagnosis with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. .

Thursday the 17th July was an unextraordinary day, I had finished work and was on the train home, ready to meet my 3 year old daughter and her papa at the train station. Papa was going to work and me and Ruby were going home and to pick up her brother Shaun, 9.

I saw them waving at me, and noticed Ruby's cheeks looked a little puffy. She had been unwell for a couple of weeks with an eye infection, and hayfever, and it looked like she was still unwell. I asked her to open her mouth and could see her tonsils were rather swollen. I told Ruby's papa (Ludo - short for Ludovic, my lovely French other half) that I would take Ruby to theNHS walk-in centre.

They asked some pretty straightforward questions and decided to send us to Alder Hey Children's Hospital because they were not paediatric trained. This wasn't a surprise, the people of Liverpool are used to popping in and out of that fabulous hospital and we know how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep! Any mum in Liverpool will tell you that :)

Alas! Alder Hey! Here we are, it hasn't been the first time I've rolled in here, an over-protective mother who cannot wait until the morning!

The A&E department was busy, it had been a warm July afternoon, there were kids everywhere with bumps and scrapes, occasional sunburn. "We're going to be here hours" I remember thinking. "Maybe I can just take her to the doctors and get some antibiotics in the morning." But then that little mummy voice pipes up in my head:  "BUT WHAT IF HER TONSILS GROW SO BIG SHE CANT BREATHE!" I dam my inner voice and help myself to a warm tuna sandwich from the vending machine.

4 hours later, and bobbing on past 10pm we finally make our way into a cubicle and are seen by a young student doctor with a mop of curly hair and an Irish accent. He asks me about mumps, he feels around Ruby's throat and glands and asks me how she got these little bruises around her knees. "She's at nursery doctor, they play out a lot."

"Arsehole" is what I am suddenly thinking. What kind of a question is that! It's summer, she's 3 years old. Lets get on with the antibiotics please. I want to go home!

Mr Curly Irish "what are these bruises" Doctor tells me that they are going to do a routine bloodtest to check for mumps. I nod, tired, Ruby doesn't seem to be as tired as I am, but I can tell she's getting bored.

Of course, she screams and protests as her blood is taken and now we just need to sit and wait so we can go home with our antibiotics. Should have gone to the doctors. Tic Toc Tic Toc. Boring!

A lady doctor comes into our cublicle, all smiles and light and asks if she can have a "quick word" and quickly ushers in a medic nurse to stay and draw a picture with Ruby. "Just for a moment" she says. She smiles and starts to lead the way through a door... At this point, I have the tiniest, smidgiest, twinkliest feeling of being uncomfortable.

She asks me, with her big smiley face "So who lives at home then?"

The tiny, smidgy, twinkly feeling has just grown into a pocket of air inside my stomach. I can feel myself start to hollow. My body temperature shifts. I don't like the question. I answer her: "Me, Ruby's dad, Ruby, and brother Shaun." I smile. She smiles back. We are still walking to wherever this room is, further and further away from my daughter. "And how old is Shaun" she asks. "9" I gulp. I can't elaborate. I can't say something funny like "9 going on 90!" Something is wrong, alarm bells are ringing. They don't like the bruises on her knees. This is it. They think it's one of us. Or big brother Shaun. They want to know how old he is. He loves his sister. They're just bruises on her knees from nursery. All the kids have them. What is this hospital playing at. Where is my daughter? Help.

She swings open the door to the room and there are two other people sitting down, on a couch, and they signal for me to sit down too. They have badges and clip boards. This is a living nightmare. And they couldnt be more wrong. I can't speak, I just stare and wait for them to say it. I can't believe this is happening. I don't feel anything. I actually feel numb. What the hell is going on.

An arm slips around my shoulder. The woman sitting next to me has put her arm around my shoulder. I look at her in complete bewilderment and then I look at the lady with the smiley face. She isn't smiling anymore. She's staring down at her hands and she opens her mouth to speak and the woman to my right hugs me closer.

"As you know we did a blood test on Ruby."

"Right" I say.

I'm staring at her like i've never seen another human being before. Her voice has fallen to a whisper. "And the results have turned up some abnormalities."

"Right" I say. I'm still staring, but I can also feel relief rushing over me. This isn't what I thought it was. Thank God.

"And it's not good news i'm afraid."

"What do you mean?"

"Your daughter has Leukaemia."




Lucy, thank you for sharing your story about Ruby's diagnosis. I can't imagine what you must have been going through. 

How is Ruby doing now?  You write in such a motivating way - I was hanging on your every word. What happened next?





Thank you Lauren, I will be updating my blog with the immediate aftermath in a few days. Ruby, is doing really well.



Thank you so much for sharing the story of Ruby's diagnosis with us. As Lauren says, you write so lucidly and in the moment that I feel like I'm there in the room with you and it really brings back memories of my own time waiting around to await my fate when all sorts of thoughts and feelings start to run through your head as your imagination starts to take over.

I hope that treatment is going well for Ruby - what type of leukaemia does she have? I imagine you've already been bombarded with all sorts of information and support but we're here to help in any way that we can and the important thing to appreciate is that you are not alone.

Stay in touch and thanks again for being brave enough to share your experiences of diagnosis with us. It will be an enormous source of benefit to other mums and dads to read your thoughts and feelings as a lot of them will have thought similar things and wondered if they were alone in thinking in this way.

Are thoughhts and feelings are with you, Ruby and the rest of the family. Do stay in touch.


Thankyou, I often did wonder if I was the only one with this experience. Ruby has ALL. I hope to blog again in the next few days, the 'What happened next' bit. Thanks for your support.