About this blog


About this blog

The whole process of dealing with a cancer diagnosis can seem utterly terrifying and incredibly isolating. Following our daughter’s leukaemia diagnosis I felt compelled to use our own experiences to explain some of the many impacts that cancer has on a young person’s life and the way it affects so many people around them. Blogs written by Rachel

  • Patient Name: Suki
  • Cancer Type: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
  • Age when diagnosed: 4

Being the sibling of a childhood cancer patient

6th April 2021

Not being able to see your younger sister

At the time of diagnosis, Suki’s younger sister Betsie was just 22 months old. From that moment she lived with her grandparents for more than five weeks, during that time I saw her for no more than eight hours in total. Living in hospital with Suki on high dose chemotherapy, and very vulnerable to any form of infection; the constant coughs, colds and sickness bugs that her younger sister seemed to be carrying meant we couldn’t risk contact with each other.

May 2017

Betsie’s interpretation of her family

As Suki’s treatment progressed we found some form of rhythm but undoubtedly our younger daughter came second in almost every decision we faced. Not because we wanted it that way but because we had little other choice. At three years old Betsie produced a drawing, it featured mummy, daddy, herself looking sad and her big sister Suki. Suki was a cloud, floating on her way to hospital. Hospital had been part of our lives for over two years by this point and her sister couldn’t remember a world when hospital didn’t feature in our family routine. To her hospital life, Suki’s treatment and medication was very much normality.

Bestie artwork cloud drawing

What Betsie remembers of her sister’s cancer treatment

Talking to Betsie now she has very little recollection of Suki during the intense stages of treatment, but there are certain moments and pivotal events from recent years that she can still recall. Christmas spent in hospital and interrogating Santa when he made a special visit to the ward. A bald headed Suki, one who couldn’t always run, play and join in with games.
Suki feeling sad and angry, vomiting so many times, having needles put in her and always taking lots of medicines every single day.

We don’t expect Betsie to understand the severity of all her older sister has gone through, and for now that innocence helps to give the rest of the family a reminder to live in the moment, to not look too far into the future and embrace the simplicity and fun moments in daily life.

march 2018

The bond between the sisters

We don’t know of family life any other way, so it’s hard to say just how much Suki’s treatment has affected Betsie, but childhood cancer has undoubtedly impacted on her, just as it has every family member.

There’s certainly a closeness and protectiveness between them both, they look out for each other, and are especially concerned when one or other is ill. We know how fortunate we are to have both our girls and how special it is to see the strong bond continue to grow between them.

This blog was written by Suki’s mum, Rachel to show the reality of childhood cancer and how it affects everything, family members and all siblings in some way, no matter their age. Click here to read Suki’s full childhood cancer story.

Recent Feb 2021
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