Paul M
Posted by

The first blow

Paul M
Posted by
08 Dec 2014

The 28th of August 2014 started like any other day. We were not long back from a short holiday and both kids had been a little sick since we got back. We weren't overly concerned about either. Our youngest, Anabelle (2) was always sick with something but our eldest, Nathan (3) hadn't been sick a day in his life. However, he had been increasingly wanting us to push him around in his sister's pram while we were away, had been very gurny (moany) and had been increasingly lethargic. Neither him nor his sister have been good sleepers so this was very out of character. It was more comments from Grandparents on how pale Nathan looked that concerned my wife and prompted her to see our GP.

I was sitting in work waiting on a meeting kicking off when I recieved a call from my wife. She was in tears which instantly worried me. She told me that the Doctor wanted to send Nathan for blood tests that afternoon. My initial reaction was to reassure my wife. I reminded her how Nathan had never been sick a day in his life and how they had both been a litle sick recently (he wasn't as bad as Anabelle had been) but noted that Nathan was still running about as normal. This helped calm an reassure her and the day continued as normal. However, in a previous job i had worked on marketing material for a leukaemia charity and a quick Google search did worry me. I just refused to believe it, put it to the back of my mind and carried on with my day.

Upon leaving work at around 4.30 I called my wife who was still at the hospital with nathan and my mother awaiting the results of the blood test. I went straight from work to the hospital, the thought was still in the back of my mind but I was hiding it behind thoughts of how we would just grab a take away directly on the way home from the hospital and how it would probably just all be a precaution.

After being at the hospital for maybe an hour a nurse came into the room and asked if we were Nathan's mum and dad then asked us to follow her. My heart sank instantly although the nurse seemed strangely jovial considering what was about to happen. We were taken to a small room with 2 black leather sofas, strangely I can remember everything about that room. The doctor was already sitting in the room waiting us. For some strange reason my wife sat next to the doctor and was told to sit next to me because she would need a hug. Strange details, but i knew right then and i guess i prepared myself. I sat down with my wife next to me and the doctor on the other side on the other sofa. He was indian and spoke with a heavy accent yet was perfectly clear with a very soft voice. All my anticipation didn't make the news any easier. I simply sat staring straight ahead into the middle distance with thoughts about what all of this meant racing through my head. The old saying of opposites attract rings true with my wife and I. I remember she lept forward in the seat and gasped "oh my god" then instantly started asking all the questions that rushed into her mind. I remember after about 2 or 3 questions she asked "tell me, is he going to die?" The doctor was clearly taken aback by the question and could only answer it in one way..... unfortunately his hesitation didn't make his reply reassuring and it sticks with me today.

I'm not sure how long exactly we were in that room or what we even discussed exactly, I was still dazed and didn't join in much in the conversation. We were told what was going to happen from here (straight to Yorkhill childrens hopsital). I remember then walking from the room together. My wife went to call her mother and I was taken to a small play park where I had been playing with Nathan only about 10 minutes before. The nurse then sent my mother out and I just fell to pieces when I tried to tell her. Being a life long hypochondriac and pessimist (wonder where i got it from) she already knew.

Eventually we all managed to pull ourselves back together well enough to go back to Nathan. The next hour or so was a taste of the next few weeks to come as the nurse put a canula in and took more blood before an ambulance arrived and took Nathan and my wife to Yorkhill with my mother and I following in the car.




Really sorry to hear about Nathan's diagnosis which must still have been a real shock even though you had steeled yourself for the worst. It's funny how you remember every single minute detail about the day - that is something that is very common for blood cancer patients and their families including mine.

I imagine Nathan's started his treatment now and I hope that that's going well. The good thing is that treatment has improved beyond all recognition since we first started as a charity in 1960 and he's in excellent hands at Yorkhill.

It's important to appreciate that you're not alone and that we're here to help you in anyway that we can. I imagine you've read up on all the literature already but we've got lots of information about ALL in our Patient Information section which might prove useful while we've also got lots of blogs by parents and patients who have had ALL and come out the other side which might help give you some hope and inspiration. Do feel free to have a browse and introduce yourself to others by leaving a comment on their blog or two:

We've also recently written a blog with tips and advice from patients and families which you might find useful:

On our part you can rest assured that we're doing everything we can to improve treatment of childhood ALL and will not stop until we beat it for good.

Keep us updated on how you get on and please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need anything. We're behind you every step of the way.