Having a child with blood cancer has a huge emotional effect on the whole family.
Kerry Harvey-Noble’s daughter, Nancy, was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) when she was just four-and-a-half years old.
Nancy had just started school when she began to feel ill. After the third round of antibiotics didn’t work, we pushed our GP – instinctively my husband Glenn and I knew there was something wrong.
I remember not really understanding the severity of the situation. At the hospital, the doctors asked us if we realised that Nancy was very poorly, but we said no – less than three weeks before, she’d been a healthy little girl.
When we found out Nancy had ALL, we were in disbelief. Things like this happened in movies or on TV, not to our daughter. I carried her in my arms to a private hospital room, where a nurse rattled off lots of overwhelming information. I didn’t know what leukaemia was: only that it was life-threatening.
After a few days in the hospital, we were sent home with instructions on which drugs to give Nancy and when. We’d felt safe in the hospital with the doctors around us, and leaving was really scary.
We’re the experts in loving our child, not in giving her the medicines which are trying to save her life.
Nancy having blood cancer has also had a huge effect on her sister Edith. She’s had to witness a lot of things a child her age shouldn’t have. But Edith’s helped us all keep some of the normality in our lives. I sometimes catch them playing doctors and nurses, but this time it’s Edith who has leukaemia and Nancy will be looking after her.
We’ve needed lots of emotional support during our cancer journey. Our local family support group helps – you can look other parents in the eye and they know what you’re going through. But I think more can be done. While the medicine can hopefully make your child better, families need more emotional help to truly get their lives back.
In total, Nancy will have over two years of treatment. It’s made us re-evaluate everything. When Nancy’s lying in bed, and all she wants is a cuddle from me – that feeling changes your perspective on what’s important.
We try to have happy, precious moments as a family but in the back of your mind, you’re always thinking about the cancer. It’s hard to escape it.
Watch Kerry's video to hear more about their family's experience with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
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