Graeme Atkinson has been fundraising for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research since the death of his young son Steven in October 2009. Here he tells us Steven's story...
When he was born in July 1997 Steven had a number of ailments including a cleft pallet, curvature of the spine and a failure to thrive resulting in him needing to be tube fed. Steven underwent surgery on his pallet at a very young age to start the gradual repair of the top of his mouth; sadly these operations had to be put on hold when Steven was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in early 1999.
Steven underwent 3 years of chemotherapy at Newcastle's RVI. During this time Steven spent many times in hospital for treatment for infections etc. but usually remained a happy little boy no matter what was thrown at him. After the chemotherapy Steven like so many others still had to attend regular appointments to check blood levels in the outpatients department. During this time Steven was also seeing specialists at The Life Centre in Newcastle in relation to all the medical problems he was experiencing in his young life. As well as the above mentioned there were things like Duane Syndrome (eye), Pierre Rubens Syndrome (jaw line). He had regular visits to Sunderland's ENT department until it closed and was then transferred to Newcastle's RVI, all the time still requiring regular checks at the oncology department. Steven had further surgery to close the cleft pallet that had to be put on hold during the treatment for leukaemia at the RVI and was due to have more as he grew and the hole opened up again.
Steven was always an active lad who despite being told 'you shouldn't do this or that' would always go out and prove people wrong by doing the things he loved: including horse riding on Sunday mornings with his cousin Jonny, football with his friends from school and around home down at the local playing fields. Steven particularly loved family holidays when he would make sure he got the best of his Dad at every opportunity he could. I remember during a holiday at Butlins where he and his friend Brandon tricked me into jumping into the outdoor pool after saying it was quiet warm considering, and then proceeding to fall about in fits of laughter.
He was the type of lad who loved his family including siblings John, Dawn and Katie. Steven and his Mam shared a very special bond. He was able to talk with her very openly about things and they did a great deal together not just as a family unit but quiet often just the two of them, Steven was the apple of his mother Violet’s eye.
Just as Steven’s life was taking shape we were hit with devastation on Saturday 16 October 2009 when Steven was struck by a speeding driver whilst he was out on his bike with friends. His injuries were so bad that he was pronounced dead on arrival at Sunderland hospital.
We are currently fundraising in Steven’s memory and chose to support LLR in this way as a thank you for the hard work that the charity has and continues to do in the UK, and in the hope that monies raised in Steven’s name will help other families have a life time of memories with a child that might otherwise not be able to due to blood cancer.