Every parent has the same thought: "I wish it were me"
Melody's son Andrew was only three years old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Over the course of his treatment she kept a diary of the highs and lows, frustrations and elations. In this first excerpt from her book, Melody shares the thoughts running through her head in the week following Andrew's diagnosis.
Andrew was diagnosed with leukaemia a week ago. It’s curable.
He’s been such a brave boy.
It turns out Andrew has the commonest and most treatable leukaemia, called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia or ALL. The onset is rapid. There’s no known cause.
I’m trying to remember how long he has been symptomatic for. It makes me feel sick to think he has had cancer and I didn’t know.
I feel so guilty for thinking he was being lazy, but we are eternally grateful to our GP for realising something was wrong and sending us for a blood test straight away. I rang her today to let her know and asked if she had suspected it was leukaemia. She admitted she hadn’t suspected it but had known a blood test would show why he was pale and anaemic.
Ridiculous to admit it, but I was so relieved when they told us it was leukaemia and not a tumour under the spot on his tummy. They told us not to google the disease as there are a lot of crazy stories and incorrect information on the internet.
A brief sense of normality
I saw Cath this morning, and we stood on the pavement outside the house talking. She’d been to Primark to pick up some t-shirts for Andrew and was dropping them off. It feels utterly normal to be a mummy stood on a street corner chatting. Cath is the first person I have spoken to in detail to, other than family, since the diagnosis… and it was wonderful.
Andrew had a good day as days go.
The playroom has one of those full-size rocking horses which Andrew loves to sit on and ride. There’s a craft table where he can stick, cut and glue to his heart’s content. He’s constantly attached to a fluid drip at the moment, so I have to wheel him around with a stand.
We’re following a protocol called Regimen A. Tomorrow is ‘Day One’ of Andrew’s treatment, called the Induction Stage. It starts with steroids; we begin chemotherapy on Day Two.
Preparing for the side-effects
The steroids will turn him into an emotional little monster apparently. He will have a horrid jab in the leg on Day Four, another general anaesthetic and lumbar puncture on Day Eight and then hopefully he will be home on Day Nine.
The room is cleaned twice a day and the cleaner keeps telling me how much she loves Andrew’s hair. I have been thinking, but not saying, how insensitive a comment that is, as his hair is surely going to be falling out soon. I don’t want to be reminded of how gorgeous his blonde curly locks are; I know they are scrumptious and I don’t know what I am going to do or how I am going to feel once they go.
The ladies in the playroom says we can keep Andrew’s Batcave playset, as Grandad fixed it and I bought a Batman – they even found a Robin!
We have been told going back to school is a possibility for Andrew after four months, but that seems an age away. I cannot believe it has only been a week since we were told Andrew had cancer.
It feels so much longer than seven days.
This article was adapted from Melody’s book ‘We Beat Leukaemia: My family’s journey with childhood cancer’. You can purchase the full book here.