Brandon

16 December 2014
Brandon in hospital
Brandon was only three years old when he was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). His mum, Amanda, tells us his story:

"Brandon was getting very tired all the time. He would ask to be pushed in the pram instead of walking. Meanwhile his two year-old younger sister, Sophie, would always be walking and running along happily beside him in the pram whenever we were in the park.  

First visit to the doctor: viral infection

Brandon was getting very tired all the time. He would ask to be pushed in the pram instead of walking.I just thought he was being a lazy little boy who could not be bothered to walk. Then he started getting temperatures and a cough, so I took him to the doctor. I was told he just had a viral infection - and to let it clear up on its own.

A week later he still had his cough, was tired and not interested in playing.

Second visit to the doctor: antibiotics

Brandon with mum and brother in hospitalI took him back to the doctor who said Brandon still had a viral infection, and gave him some antibiotics.

After the week’s course of medicine, Brandon still did not seem any better. On the Saturday we were at a summer fayre and Brandon went on the bouncy castle. But whilst the other children were jumping about and having fun, Brandon was just sitting there not joining in, and looking very pale. He just had no energy at all and I had to push him all the way around the fayre in the pram.  

Third visit to the doctor: blood test

I took Brandon back to the doctor on the Monday and asked for a blood test.

We soon got a call back with his results. They said he must go to Pembury Hospital for a blood transfusion. Then he was sent to St George’s Hospital in London for further tests.

And that's where we stayed for the next 10 days.  

Three-year treatment plan

Brandon during treatmentAfter being diagnosed with Acute lymploblastic leukaemia, Brandon was in remission within one to two weeks.

His treatment plan, however, was for three years. It was to include chemotherapy, and steroids via a portacath. Brandon would also have weekly blood tests at home, all through his treatment.

We were transferred to the Royal Marsden in Sutton for the long-term treatment.

We were in shock

We were in shock and could not believe this could happen to our little boy. You would usually associate this kind of illness with older people.  
I could not talk to anyone for some months. My husband made all the phone calls to let everyone know.
I could not talk to anyone for some months. My husband made all the phone calls to let everyone know. Every time someone spoke to me about it I would just cry and want to shut everyone out.

For the first six months of his treatment we virtually lived at the hospital – Brandon had lots of different infections. One of them was an aspergillus on his lung - this was very worrying and delayed his treatment. The staff and Brandon’s Consultant at The Royal Marsden were excellent.

I had to give up workBrandon with his sisters and brother

I had two jobs when Brandon fell ill. I gave up both of them the day he was diagnosed.

At the time I was working two night shifts as a Healthcare Assistant, and by day I was a full-time child minder. My husband had to have time off work as well.

Treatment ended in October 2013

Brandon smilingBrandon finally finished his treatment on 19th October 2013.

He is doing well and catching up at school after having missed so much. And I'm back at work.

He is now a very energetic cheerful young boy. Brandon has two sisters, Sophie aged six and Evie aged four and a younger brother called Ethan aged three.

Brandon does not have any side-effects. We still worry, especially when he's not feeling well or has a cough. That worry will never go away."

Read more: Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia | Commonly used terms in treatment | side effects of treatment

Update: two years since end of treatment

Brandon’s Mum, Amanda tells us how he's getting on:
"Brandon is now eight, his sister Sophie is seven, Evie is five and Ethan has just turned four. We moved house after Brandon finished treatment - we needed something bigger for our growing family.

Brandon with certificatesAt his old school in Tunbridge Wells Brandon was having one-to-one tuition once a week for about five months. This had helped him tremendously. But at his new school they said he didn't need extra help - that he is quite bright and near enough at the level for this age - which was pleasing to hear.

I cannot believe how much energy Brandon has compared to before. His school picked him and some other children that they considered needed help with their confidence. They brought in an organisation called Challenge Troop CIC and put them through army-style training including press ups, sit ups, climbing, crawling under wire fencing in the mud and pouring rain and doing the bleep test where they have to run so many times back and forth within a certain time limit. At the award ceremony, out of 30 pupils, four were picked as the fittest and Brandon was one of them.

We were the proudest mum and dad there. With all that Brandon has been through - what a massive achievement.
(October 2015)

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