Today I was privileged enough to be part of the Leukeamia & Lymphoma Research team to take blood cancer patients and their families to Disney Land Paris for the start of a magical weekend far away from the worries of treatment and hospitals that affect their every day lives.
A total of 21 families are on the trip, each affected by blood cancer and all in need of a break from treatment and hospital appointments to give them the opportunity to spend some much deserved time together as a family doing something fun. Families like the Blackwell's who are trying to put their lives back together after 14 year old Deryn's three separate bone marrow transplants and the Whyteside's whose second youngest daughter, Alisha, is currently undergoing through treatment for acute lymphocytic leukaemia.
Spirits were understandably high when we arrived at King's Cross St. Pancras to get on the Eurostar to take us to Paris with many of the families already ready and raring to go!
Carolyn Wright, proud mum of 5 year old Jenson, summed up the mood of the camp pre-trip when she said: "This trip will mean so much to us as we can enjoy a 'normal' family holiday without the worry of what might happen to Jenson should he become ill.
The train journey provided an opportunity to get to know some of the families more and by the time we reached Disneyland I was 29 going on 5 again, competing with 3 year old Olivia to see who could balance the most crayons behind the back of their ear and talking at length to 7 year old Ellie, who has just gone through a bone marrow transplant, about why the Eurostar should be multicoloured and not grey and boring.
The park itself was magical. I'd never been before and I was almost excited as the kids although considerably less cool as this picture proves!
Seeing families enjoying spending quality time with each other far away from hospital and the troubles of treatment, I feel enormously proud to be a part of a charity that offers so much to blood cancer patients and their families. None more so than when speaking to 5 year old Dominic who has been undergoing treatment for leukaemia for three years. As if this wasn't enough, Dominic lost his Dad to a sudden stroke earlier this year.
Disneyland is an opportunity for children like Dominic and his younger brother, Till, to forget about all their worries and concentrate on doing what kids do best and that's having fun and letting their imaginations run free - even if that means I have to listen about jalapeno eating, zombie hating, angry birds that target green pigs without having a clue what he's talking about!
A huge thank you to you all for all your nominations and support without which we wouldn't have been able to make this trip a reality. Children dream big and thanks to you, we are able to make some of these dreams a reality. Stay tuned for more updates from Disney tomorrow when we'll be meeting some of the characters as well as taking part in more of the crazy rides!