Christmas 2003 was when our lives as a family changed – and not for the better. The week before Christmas, Liam had chickenpox and as the days passed, there was no improvement in his health.
Liam was still lethargic by Boxing Day, losing interest in the usual Christmas delights, and had developed a large bruise type mark on the top of his head.
Tests revealed possible leukaemia
After a visit to the local out-of-hours GP service, he was rushed to the hospital where he was given fluids and his blood was tested. Liam’s father Steve and I were not prepared for the shock of being told later that day that the tests revealed a suspicion of leukaemia.
Liam was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where it was confirmed that he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
The news was devastating. To be told that your child has cancer was news that was to turn our world upside down. Our emotions went into overdrive and we stepped into a new world of the unknown.
Within days of his diagnosis, Liam began the first session in his three years of treatment. We saw many doctors during our week at Birmingham with lots of tests and lots of needles. It was all new and very scary for him and something he did not enjoy.
Liam achieved remission within a month
Liam went home a week after being admitted and he had achieved remission within a month. But it had come at a cost. His appearance had changed so quickly with the chemotherapy drugs he was taking. He gained weight to the extent that he could not even pick himself off the floor and his hair fell out.
He struggled with the changes of his body but never let it bother him. It was hard to believe that we would see the same little boy come out the other end, but we did.
In the following months, Liam continued his treatment, half the time at the local hospital and the remainder in Birmingham. There were endless needles and medicines which continued throughout his treatment. He endured many hospital stays and illnesses. He was always very brave and never let it get him down.
164 weeks of treatment seemed like a lifetime but we can assure you that the time passed very quickly.
Liam started school during his treatment
Liam also had to cope with starting school during his treatment. But in spite of the chemotherapy and hospital stays, he hardly missed a day. Liam’s treatment did never stopped him from enjoying life as a little boy!
Three years after his diagnosis, Liam completed his treatment. He is now a confident, healthy and happy boy. Liam went swimming and football training every week as well as attending the Beavers.
He enjoyed all of these activities and, although he was very tired and in hospital sometimes, he rarely had to miss any of them. We have always tried to not let his illness stop him from leading a normal life.
But hopefully he can look forward to leading a normal life, doing all the things a young boy should be able to do.
Update on Liam, age 14
Liam will be 15 in June. He has recently had his yearly oncology check-up at the hospital and all is well.
He is now eight years into full remission and has been told that, all being well, they will discharge him when he is 18. They want to make sure he gets through his teenage years okay. It’s hard to believe that when that happens we will have been doing the whole hospital thing for 15 years.
He is in Year 10 at school and is working towards next year’s GCSEs. He recently passed his Grade 2 in guitar with a merit, has moved up to the Explorer Scouts and has started the Scouts Young Leader programme which includes helping out with the cubs. He also fits in a weekly paper round. And he is living it up, as I write, on a school trip to Morocco… He leads the life of Riley.
All in all, touch wood, his health is really good, and long may it go on. Here’s a photo of him with his dad last Christmas – he is changing so much and so quickly at the moment, we are sure he grows in his sleep!
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