He was pale from head to foot
My son Cameron was just two years and two months old in February 2008 when he started with the symptoms. He was pale from head to foot, kept having nose bleeds and had tiny bruises and red spots all over his body. He was crying with pain and was very lethargic. I asked him to point to where it hurt and when he pointed to different parts of his body I put two and two together – I figured blood is all over the body, it must be leukaemia.
Cameron was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
I took him to A&E on 1st March. Three hours later, Cameron had a chest X-ray and we were taken to the children’s ward. When a nurse asked if anyone could be with me as the doctor wanted to talk to me, I knew it was bad news.
The doctor came in shortly after and broke the news: “Your son has a form of leukaemia, but we have caught it in time and it is treatable”. I was speechless but a few tears fell down my face. All I could think was ‘OK let’s go, let’s not waste any time, when does treatment start?’
Cameron finally got to sleep at 1.30am once the pain killers took effect. The following day his temperature shot up to 40 degrees. This was the first time he had had an infection since the symptoms started four weeks previously.
That evening we were transported up to The Royal Marsden by ambulance. We were in for two weeks apart from a couple of days in St George’s where Cameron had his portacath fitted. A bone marrow test confirmed that he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Cameron’s treatment was to last three years and two months and he lost his hair twice. His treatment included: steroids for five weeks at the beginning, steroids for five days each month, an IV chemo called Vincristine, daily chemo medicine and a weekly chemo medicine which he hated taking. He also had a lumbar puncture every three months to ensure the leukaemia hadn’t gone into his spinal fluid.
He couldn’t walk for a while and put on quite a bit of weight during the first five weeks of his steroid treatment. When he had the steroids for five days each month, they sometimes increased his appetite, caused mood swings, made his skin irritant (he would wake up in the night saying his blanket was prickly!) and made him very insecure. During treatment, Cameron didn’t stop growing like some children did. He always looked healthy and no-one could tell that he had leukaemia.
His final dose of chemotherapy
On Tuesday 12 April 2011 Cameron had the final bone marrow test to check the leukaemia had gone, thankfully it had. He took his final dose of chemo on 1 May 2011. He is doing really well, going from strength to strength, gradually building his confidence up. Since his treatment finished he goes to school and gets his trousers dirty, something he didn’t do while on treatment because he didn’t have the energy to throw himself on the floor.
Thank you very much for hearing our story. Going through this experience has made me a stronger person and now I want to help others.
Update on Cameron: five years clear and 10 years old
We marked Cameron’s five years clear of leukaemia with an activity weekend in Birmingham at the beginning of May. On the Saturday I took him to Snowdome for ice skating, swimming and tobogganing. He had a great time, enjoying every minute of his new favourite pastimes.
On Sunday 2 May, the actual five year clear date, I took him to Cadbury World. Cameron is in no way a chocaholic so he was very sensible with his freebies, even bringing some home.
Looking back, these last five years have gone pretty fast. Cameron is doing really well at school. He loves choir, literacy, history and science. He has also been playing the guitar for just over a year. He was always good at drawing and now he’s an artist in another way too. I’m told he’s a natural at guitar; he picks it up really quickly.
He has no problems with his health. He fights off colds really well. He is a very loving, fun lad to be around and grasps life and opportunities with eagerness and both hands. Thankfully he doesn’t remember much of his three year treatment. It’s as if you are talking about someone else going through it. I can’t tell you how proud of him I am. He’s my true hero.
Update June 2018
Cameron is now 12 and half years old and is in Year 7 at secondary school. The picture attached was taken on his first day at big school. He’s not overly keen on school now but he gets on with it and has many friends at school and in other areas of his life. He is well liked by the teachers too and is always willing to help out in class, regularly getting recognition for his participation, hard work and resilience. He has no problems with his health and makes no fuss when he gets a cold; he’s a tough little cookie. He’s very active and loves playing frisbee. I’m so proud of Cameron; we have a fun and have a close relationship.
Karen, mum, June 2018
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