Lisa G.
Posted by

What If?

Lisa G.
Posted by
10 Jan 2016

The reality of dealing with childhood cancer.

The weather has been warm and the boys had a great time out in the garden this weekend.  Henry in the paddling pool and a still non-walking Hugo sitting in a garden chair playing with toys. 

Hugo has loved being with his big brother and Richard and I kept exchanging fluffy looks at how wonderful it is being at home, all together, doing normal family things.  At how great it is to see Hugo happy and smiling.

At the hospital we were fully focussed on Hugo, in dealing with his immediate health issues.  Every minute was taken up with medical procedures, absorbing information, with medication and blood and platelet transfusions.  Now at home, I have a chance to breathe, to step back and to think, which was always going to be dangerous.

I find my mind starting to drift, to think 'what if?'

What if this wonderful family day is our final memory with Hugo?  If he's the one, the one in 10 that doesn't make it?  Will I be sitting here in this same garden in a year, or two years time, a broken shell of myself with a huge Hugo shaped gap in our lives?

What if today is wonderful, but tomorrow sees us rushing back to hospital when Hugo spikes a temperature?  If he gets an infection and is fighting for his life?

What if he reacts badly to the next new drug he needs, or the side effects from it are too much for his little body to handle?

What if this journey changes our happy, sweet, sensitive little boy into a child we no longer recognise?  What if this journey changes us all?  Are we strong enough, or will this break us?  What if we don't do enough for him, shout loud enough, fight hard enough on his behalf?

What if, after more than 3 years of treatment, it comes back, or he gets another type of cancer?  What if there are long term side effects from the intense treatment and in years to come Hugo has to deal with issues such as infertility?

What if, what if, what if?

I know it's morbid and such an unproductive train of thought, but I just couldn't help it.  I wanted to capture this moment, this fun family time, store it away some place safe, just in case.

This is it isn't it?  This is the reality of living with cancer.  It's not just the medication and the side effects.  It's not just the new unpredictability of our lives.  It's the constant fear of 'what if?'  Not just now, not just for the 3 years of treatment, but in the years to come.  At 2 and a half Hugo is thankfully too young to understand the mental fight and I am relieved that myself and his dad are the ones to take this on for him.

I know I can't allow myself to think like this, that it would end up consuming me, but perhaps, just briefly, I need to go to that dark place.  To think 'what if?', to acknowledge all the worst case scenarios in order to move on.

The doctors advised up to take things one day at a time and we have been trying to live by this mantra, but now I fully understand why.  So, that is what we are going to do.  Today was a good day, we all had a wonderful time.  Today Hugo is well and happy and that is enough for now.

2 August 2015

Read more on Hugo's journey at




Everything that you have written here is completely understandable and are thoughts and feelings that almost all blood cancer patients and their families invariably think about at some point or another - I don't think you'd be human if you didn't occasionally think 'what if?'

The psychological impact of cancer is often overlooked and we know from our Patient Need survey that more needs to be done to support patients and their families in this regard before, during and, importantly, after treatment.

What's important to appreciate is that you're not alone in feeling the way that you do and that there is help and support out there  to help you through everything that you're going through should you feel that you need it. Our support line is an excellent starting point to talk through any particular fears or worries that you have and they'll be able to point you in the direction of additional support and information that you may find useful. Their number is 0808 2080 888. Alternatively you can drop them an email at

Being able to talk to others who are in a similar position I think may also be really benfecial and if you like I'm sure our support team would be able to put you in touch with some other parents.

Getting your concerns out in your blog as you've been doing can also be beneficial and it's important that you don't keep things bottled up while your doctors advice to take each day as it comes is very sensible. Going forwards there will be ups and downs and potential obstacles to overcome but you can't ever predict the future and the key is to concentrate on the here and now.

Do keep us updated and remember that we're always here for you.


Thank you Andy.  It's good to know there's a support team there to help us and other families in our position.  I'd be interested in writing another blog post further down the line on the psychological impact of cancer so will keep in touch.