Abnormalities in Charlotte’s blood
Friday 11 August 2006 is a day that will stick in my mind forever. Charlotte, then 13, went to the GP for a full blood test as she had been unwell for about the past two to three weeks.
It was quite a normal Friday, until the consultant haematologist rang and said there were abnormalities in Charlotte’s blood and could we take her straight down to East Surrey hospital. We were there within the half hour and Charlotte was examined by a doctor and asked loads of questions etc. She had yet more blood taken and then, at 10.30, we heard the awful words that no parent ever wants to hear.
We were taken into a small, unventilated, windowless room and asked to sit down. That sinking feeling filled me. I knew we were to be told bad news. ‘Charlotte is very poorly and has childhood leukaemia’ are about the only words I remember hearing. Obviously we did ask some questions – the normal ones. ‘Will my child get better?’ etc. But it was difficult to focus on anything. Questions like ‘Why Charlotte?’, ‘Why my child?’ were all that occupied my very muddled mind. The time came for us to go back to see Charlotte, who we had left with our older daughter Harriet (15). They both knew something was seriously wrong – we had been gone ages and came back very red eyed.
The Doctor and nurse were both extremely kind and sensitive. They sat down to tell Charlotte what was the matter. Lots of tears followed. The word cancer hits you in the stomach like a brick. We were told that she needed to be treated in a specialist cancer hospital and would be transferred to The Royal Marsden. That night Charlotte was given a platelet transfusion and blood. We did not get a lot of sleep that night – just lots more tears.
Less than 24 hours since Charlotte had had the initial blood test, she was in an ambulance going up to The Royal Marsden – blue light flashing. She was diagnosed later that day with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).