Bethan was just four years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
She had been unwell with several infections and her parents knew something wasn't right.
Bethan’s mother, Andrea, tells their story. "It's not something you would expect to happen to your four year old daughter. But unfortunately it can and does happen."
Diagnosis and treatment
Bethan had been unwell with several infections and was exhausted. She began to lose interest in the things she usually enjoyed. She was always such an outgoing child and loved to be out doing something all the time so we had an idea that something was not quite right.
But when we received the news that she had leukaemia and would need just over two years of chemotherapy, we were devastated.
We couldn’t believe what we were hearing and it was life-changing for us.
During the first few weeks of her treatment Bethan became weak and began to lose her hair from the chemotherapy. She started to look like a different child. We wondered if she would ever get back to normal.
It was heartbreaking to see your child go through this. Instead of doing the usual things a four year old would do, she was in hospital having endless blood tests, medicines and lumbar punctures. Sometimes she would scream so much.
Achieving remission but susceptible to relapse
After the first five weeks of chemotherapy Bethan went into remission and, as the treatments decreased in intensity, she started to get back to her old self.
She had a central line put in to enable her to have blood taken and medication given to save her the pain of injections and blood tests.
Although she achieved remission, Bethan’s minimal residue disease (MRD) result revealed that she was susceptible to relapse. MRD testing is a new technique used to detect the likelihood of relapse.
Her doctors decided that she must complete the full two years of treatment as a precaution.
We try and remain as positive as we can which is very hard sometimes when you have to watch her go through all this treatment. Over two years of treatment is a long time so we feel it is important to carry on as normal as we can and for Bethan’s brother Jamie.
Read more: Commonly used terms in treatment | Side-effects of treatment
Support from family and friends
The support we received from family and friends was fantastic and it helped us a lot. The staff at the hospital were wonderful and always on hand if we needed anything.
We have also met a lot of other parents going through the same thing and it helps to talk to them as well.
Despite the strain that the treatment has taken on her body, Bethan is coping remarkably, even finding some joy in the uncomfortable circumstances.
Bethan now looks forward to her hospital visits. It sounds a bit strange I know but she has made friends there and she enjoys going to the activity centre where she can do her school work and the staff members help her do some great things.
We never thought we would see the day that she enjoyed going to hospital but it’s good that she does.
Bethan is thirteen now and doing really well."
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