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Astrid completed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment 2020

Astrid was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was two years old.  Her dad Muir shares their story.

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When Astrid grows up...

“Straight away if someone says your child’s got cancer, you’re thinking straight away what her future is going to be.” – Muir, Astrid’s dad.

Finishing treatment this year, Astrid’s dad, Muir, joins us for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to reflect on her treatment and his thoughts for her future.

Keep on reading to discover her story.

Beginning treatment

The first six months of her treatment were really hard – for her and for the rest of the family. It had a big impact on her physically and emotionally. It was also incredibly distressing for me and my family, thinking about whether Astrid would survive. We also had to consider all the possible side effects that the cancer and treatment could have on Astrid in the future. It’s a lot for a child to face.

She was two years old at the time and I feel like we were lucky with the age at which this happened. She was just old enough to be able to express her feelings and communicate what was troubling her, but not so old that she really understood what was happening. It didn’t bother her at all when her hair fell out, but if that happened now, just 18 months later, she’d be really upset.

Girl in navy jumper with no hair

Knowing we’re in safe hands

We knew very little about leukaemia at the time – for example we didn’t know that 98 to 99% of children recover to full health. So we had to learn a lot of scary things but it wasn’t all bad news and so much of what we learnt from doctors and nurses really helped us cope with it all. The general atmosphere during her treatment has been very reassuring. Everyone has given off an air of confidence and capability that has helped us to understand that we’re in safe hands.

Boy carrying girl in field

Astrid appears to be a totally healthy child now

Astrid is on maintenance treatment now. For anyone who met her without knowing this, they would never guess she’s been ill or taking chemotherapy medicine. She’s totally healthy and I’m very lucky to say that she’s the happiest person I know. She’s always smiling and laughing, wanting cuddles and telling me she loves me.

Girl with red camera

Thanks to charities like Children with Cancer UK

We’ve had a lot of help from charities such as Children with Cancer UK and that’s been a great help too. To have people contact you out of the blue offering to do special things for our daughter and for us is a really lovely thing. So my final thought is thank you very much for what you do for us. It’s made Astrid and ourselves very happy.

Update: Astrid finished her treatment on 30 August 2020.

Girl with bunny jumper and toy in field

Astrid rang the end of treatment bell on 8 October 2020

Ringing the end of treatment bell was a really happy time for us. We were in a room with all the medical staff we had grown close to and seeing how happy they were for Astrid was very special. It’s great to have a moment like that to pull things into focus – it’s like taking a step back from daily life to realise what a big event it is.

 

Astrid with her family ringing the end of treatment bel Copy. min

Lockdown Christmas

Christmas in 2020 during the lockdown was pretty quiet, it was just the four of us at home. Eliza (Astrid’s mum) is from Sweden so we had lots of Swedish Christmas food which the kids love. Three years ago on Christmas Eve Astrid had a high temperature so Eliza had to take her to hospital for a couple of days, so we try to remember that we’re lucky to have Astrid home on Christmas Day. This last Christmas, 2021, we were staying in small cottage in Dalarna in northern Sweden. Astrid and her brother Elliot took some ski lessons and by the time we left, after five days, Astrid was getting about by herself and having a great time. I sometimes think about the huge difference between a time like this and the time when she was diagnosed – how we felt then and how distant skiing in Sweden would have seemed to us. It’s a great thing that charities such as Children with Cancer UK do – to help children and families who are finding it hard and haven’t yet reached that period to remember that it’s coming…

Astrid’s having a really good time in school now. When she started she was really shy. I’m pretty sure that was a result of all the treatment she had. For a two year old child it must be scary to be the focus of all that attention from doctors and nurses, so she was always shy around adults. But it didn’t take her that long to get over it and within a couple of months she was getting on well with her teachers and had some good friends.
Updated in January 2022 

Astrid smiling wearing white hat standing in the road with a peace v sign and holding a bed peace poster min

I do feel like we’re very lucky

On the one year anniversary of her last day of treatment we were staying with friends in Somerset and I took a photo of Astrid lying on their bed. I do feel like we’re very lucky but that feeling of luck is maybe just to do with the timing. It’s a real relief to be able to look at how she is now and what our life is like compared to how it was three or four years ago. But those children and parents that are in the hard position we were in then are very likely to be feeling lucky like we are pretty soon.
Updated in January 2022

 

Astrid looking at camera with hand on chin one year after her treatment ended min

How you can help

If you’ve been touched by Astrid’s journey, help us invest in the high quality research that really matters which would otherwise go unfunded.

This helps to support children with cancer so they can be with their families for longer.

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Have you or a family member been affected by childhood cancer?

Many of our supporters have been affected by childhood cancer – either through family, friends or their own personal experience. These patient stories can help inspire others to get involved with us, or can support our media work.

If you have a story that you would like to tell, please contact us by email.

 

Watch the video: being in isolation as a child with cancer

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Astrid is not allowed outside. But that doesn’t stop her staying positive and having fun.

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