In January 2011, my daughter Scarlett, then 6 years old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer, affecting somewhere in the region of 500 children in the UK each year. Treatment lasts an extremely long time – two years for girls and three for boys. Whilst the prognosis is generally good, around 20% of those children initially treated will go on to relapse.
Sadly, this is what has happened to Scarlett. She had been off treatment for just less than 6 months, when we were devastated to find out that her cancer had returned.
Relapsed ALL is harder to treat than the initial disease, and the treatments much harsher. She has since undergone a gruelling second round of treatment. From September 2013 until January 2014, Scarlett stayed at hospital, enduring relentless rounds of chemotherapy, steroids and radiotherapy. Throughout December, she barely came home at all, just managing Christmas Day at home before having to be rushed back to hospital at 9pm with a treatment related infection.
Having a child with cancer has a devastating impact, both for the child and their family.
Throughout this time, we have been tirelessly supported by many people. The staff of the pediatric oncology ward have all been fantastic, as have representatives from many of the children’s cancer charities. But the real stars and those that have kept us going through many difficult times are friends and family. From meals, to company in hospital, to offering playdates and holidays for Scarlett’s brother and sister, everyone has pulled together to offer kindness and support in unending amounts. In 2012, my wife (a complete non-runner) took up the challenge to run the London marathon, in support of a Children’s Cancer Charity, setting the bar by raising an incredible £25,000.
So now it is my turn. As ever, friends have turned out in force, and from an initial conversation with a previous Blenheim Tri friend, our team has blossomed to include 14 of Oxford’s finest (thanks Jan, Alex, Colin, Angus, Jez, Will, Jonny, Scott, Enda, Stephen, Mark, Carl and Gareth). We are aiming high with our fundraising, as this is a cause which is so close to our hearts. If we can help reach a day when no other family has to go through the pain of having their child diagnosed with leukaemia, then the pain of our training (which at times is quite considerable) will be well worthwhile.
Please dig deep and support us in whatever way you can. You can donate on our Virgin Money Giving page.