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Leukaemia story: It started with leg pains and a high temperature

Bridenni was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was three years old in February 2020.  Her mum Dee shares their story.

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when Bridenni was first diagnosed in piam brown ward Southampton hospital in February 2020.

The early cancer symptoms we noticed

Bridenni had been getting pains in her legs, tummy, getting constipated and having high temperatures. We took her to the GP several times and we were referred to the local children’s hospital assessment unit, who could not figure out why this was happening. We spent a few days in hospital and the ward said we would have to be transferred to a general children’s ward to have an MRI scan as she would have to be put to sleep for this. Bridenni had ultra sound scans, x-rays and the professionals thought she had a bone infection in her leg (osteomyelitis). So she was started on a 10 day IV course of antibiotics. She continued to get temperatures and we were in and out of hospital for three weeks.

when Bridenni was first diagnosed in piam brown ward Southampton hospital in February 2020.

The whole process was very traumatic

After sometime the consultants could not understand why she was not getting better. Whilst this was going on, Bridenni was also having bloods taken, peripherally inserted central catheter line fitted. It was taken out twice as she had a temperature. They thought it was infected (now we know it was the leukaemia), which was all very traumatic for us all. Seeing your baby having to go to sleep from the general anaesthetic was horrible and having to do it four or five times was very stressful due to the risks. Then Bridenni’s blood counts dropped very low and she was considered neutropenic, so we were isolated in a separate room.

home doing lego one of Bridenni's favourite things to do.

We were told it was acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

A blood consultant came to see me and said they wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy to rule out leukaemia. I felt gutted and cried. Bridenni had this done fairly quickly and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia two days before her 4th birthday. She had a blood transfusion that night and the next morning she was transferred to the children’s cancer ward and started her treatment. The difference in wards was unbelievable as they were totally child centred and supportive. Trying to get a four year old to take medicines every day was a massive challenge which the nurses were so helpful with.

after a lumber puncture which Bridenni has regularly at Southampton hospital

Treatment plan and stress

Bridenni is on a two year treatment plan classed as a non-complex leukaemia, but still 80-90% recovery chance which as a parent I tended to think what about the other 10-20%. But consultants tend to keep you positive and focus on each step of the treatment. I think watching and supporting your child through a long term illness is one of the most stressful things I have ever been through. It’s a massive blur and overwhelming, bit like when you have your first baby. So many things to do, remember and feeling out of control. I still get anxious but have looked at getting support from charities, doing hobbies I had lost like gardening and crafts. I went back to work after being off for 11 months with stress.

Bridenni weekly nurse visit

We are grateful for the family days out we attended

Russell (Bridenni’s dad) recently ran the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for the hospital and raised just over £1,000 from the support of our friends and family. Children with Cancer UK supported us to go on a day trip to Legoland, which Bridenni absolutely loved. It was something she looked forward to and something we will all remember and talk about fondly.

Bridenni standing next to unicorn legoland tickets given to us by Children with Cancer UK

How you can help

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

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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.

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