Oliver’s Story by his Mom Frances

Oliver’s Story

Oliver was just the best son you could possibly wish for – bright, sporty, kind and so witty. We loved, love him with all out heart. In April 2007 Oliver had started saying his legs hurt at night in particular and because he was very tall for his age and had always suffered with cramps I put it down to growing pains. He was always bruised on his legs from sport and so there was nothing new there but he did lose his colour and went very pale.

I took him to the doctors just thinking he might be a bit anaemic as in every other way he was completely fine. We were sent for a blood test that morning and went home. At half past one my GP rang me to tell me to take Oliver straight to hospital and I just burst into tears – I had no idea why but I could tell something was very wrong.

We went to our local hospital where Oli was examined. We were told that his blood count was very low, nothing was showing in his blood under the microscope but Sheffield Childrens Hospital wanted us to go there for better testing.

Even walking onto the oncology ward I still couldn’t really accept what was happening. Oli had started with petechia on his neck during this time and everyone was looking at us very knowingly and being super kind.

He was given a blood transfusion and taken down to theatre the next morning for a lumbar puncture. We were told that they would be putting chemo in his spinal fluid because it was highly likely he had what they were looking for (no one had said what they were looking for still at this stage).

A few hours later I was taken into a side room and my world fell apart. I was told Oliver had Leukaemia early stages but definitely there. They said he was the best age had the best type to get etc.. etc.. but I had to go and tell my 7 year old boy his hair would fall out and he would begin to look like all the children around him. Like I said he was a clever boy and he knew that this was not good.

I remember watching his little face trying to be brave and it broke my heart. I saw that face many times over the next five years and each time it didn’t get any easier.

Oliver had many complications and reacted to almost everything. We nearly lost him on many an occasion and it was very difficult for him to get through the treatment. We had to change his steroids after a few years but he was a fighter and he fought. After his three and a half years of chemo he was left with a damaged pancreas and had to have tablets with everything he ate but he dealt with that.

Everyone was so relieved that he’d managed to survive his treatment, the doctors included.

We had a big party and thought we could put it behind us. Two months later, Oliver began to complain of tired legs. He was a footballer and he couldn’t keep up anymore. I again said it was just his body recovering from the chemo but it got worse and worse. He went from walking slowly to being unable to move his legs at all.

My beautiful active boy was now in a wheelchair crying because he felt useless after everything he’d been through. He put on weight which depressed him and no one could tell us why he couldn’t move, his blood tests were fine.

He was sent to hospital for intensive therapy as they told us it had to be psycological. He tried so hard for them; they let him fall; they told us off if we tried to help. I can honestly say that was the worst month ever. He damaged his knee badly from hitting things when he fell. I never believed it was in his head and told them again and again. I knew my son and he wasn’t that way.

Eventually his oncology doctors said they would do one last test, a bone biopsy, which they did. February 2011 Oliver was re diagnosed it was back and this time in his spine too, hence why he couldn’t walk. Even then his blood tests were fine.

Treatment started immediately, we knew he’d never be able to do the relapse programme because of his allergies and problems so the only option was transplant.

This time Oliver was 11, he knew exactly what I was saying to him and what was coming and I watched his face fill with tears and then swallow it all down and say ‘well thats that then’. He knew I’d been crying and told me he’d be ok and not to be upset. What a star.

He struggled through his conditioning as we knew he would. His kidneys started to fail but he came through. He asked me one night whether he was going to die, I said I wouldn’t let that happen to him and he’d get through it.

He was transplanted July 2011 and all seemed to go well for the first three weeks and then everything that could go wrong did. He developed GVHD in his gut and skin; he had pancreatitis leaving him dependant on insulin; his liver and kidneys began to fail and they did a biopsy which bled causing three litres of blood to be removed from his stomach in emergency theatre. I had to sign consent to say he had a 50% chance of dying. We were up and down from ICU, he was on a ventilator, he just went from one thing to another. He asked to speak to me in private on ICU and told me he wanted to die because he had had enough. This was probably the last really coherent thing he said as his brain was slowly being poisoned.

My bright, active boy could no longer move or speak properly. He died on the 24th September 2011, 8 days after his birthday and four and a half years after this nightmare began. For him I know it was a relief but for me the pain will live on forever.

This is my sons journey πŸ™

Frances Shaw x


  1. as i read this story tears fall down my cheek my heart is deeply touched and i feel for you all . and oliver what a courageous little boy you are love to you all always in my thoughts <3

  2. My darling Frances. Oliver will never leave us; he is a treasured gift and we were blessed to have him walk with us for a while. We think and pray for Oliver and for you everyday. Such a sad, sad loss. No rhyme, no reason. x

  3. Dear Frances
    Thank you for sharing Oli’s journey, his courage and yours has moved me to tears. I am so very sorry and would like you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless. Love Anne x

  4. I’m sorry that you suffered every parents nightmare. Hope for the day when cancer is no more than a virus — treatable and survivable. Your son sounds like a treasure, and you seem very brave to me. I’m sending healing thoughts to your heart.xx

  5. I knew all about Olivers story through Amanda and may I say what a truly amazing young little boy he was. We prayed everyday for Oliver and thank god he is now at peace. Back in September my little girl Eleanor was diagnosed with bacterial meningitus at just 5 weeks old, we so nearly lost her in the first few days and we were devasted, she is now better, what a wonderful mum to write such a lovely story godbless you and your family always xx

  6. Oliver was the bravest, strongest, smartest and most beautiful boy you could imagine. He was a joy to love and has left a black hole in all our lives. His mum has been inspirational in her fight for him.

  7. The most previous gift to us is our children and Oli was no exception, he had a wonderful family surrounding him with the greatest gift of all, your love and he obviously knew that. You will all be together one day and the pain will all be gone.

    Bless you


  8. Frances…eyes leaking and heart breaking for you all, you must have heard that many times before πŸ™ What a wonderful, beautiful son you had, and still have in your heart >3

  9. I can barely see the screen through the tears that are falling….my heart goes out to you and your family.I don’t know how you have coped with the loss of your beautiful son. I hope you are able to remember all of the good times you spent together and this keeps you strong in the darker days you may have.
    My love and best wishes to you and your family x x x

  10. I was crying while reading this. Such a touching and moving story. He will live on in your heart. Such a brave boy and a credit to you. Lots of love to your family xx

  11. Thanks for sharing your son’s story. 4 and a half years is a long time to fight this beast, and Oliver really did fight like a champ. My daughter has been in the trenches for a little over two years so I know how it feels. I hope that you can find peace one day as you remember only the good times that you shared with your amazing son.

  12. Lots of love to you Frances, we can only send our love to you and let you know how sorry for your loss we are and how brave Oliver was. A young man to be so proud of. My daughter is battling ME and it is so heartbreaking as a parent to watch our darling children suffer. My heart goes out to you sweetheart, lots of love to you and yours xx

  13. I am a mother of 3 boys and I simply couldn’t imagine them (or I) going through what I have just read. You are a remarkable parent and it sounds as though your Son was a remarkable person too. I hope the good memories soon out-weigh the bad. My thoughts and strength are with you. x

  14. As a parent with a child going through chemo I know exactly how you feel, that sense of helplessness, fear and heart ache. Oliver was so brave he is a true inspiration as are you yourself, fly high with all the other angels Oliver x

  15. what a brave lovely little boy you must be soo proud of him and he loved you very much as you love him i feel i know him by reading his story i am sorry he didnt make it but he fought hard and long and he will be remembered with love by you all forever god bless and keep you sunshine all my love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  16. Oliver sounds like an amazing child, from the depths of my heart I am so sorry for your loss.
    I have a six year old granddaughter who complains her right leg hurts and keeps giving way
    We took her to the doctors 3 times and finally after explaining that my cousin had leukaemia they agreed to do blood test and X-rays but they have come back clear, we are now being told we are
    Being over protective, however it is still happening, she wakes in the middle of the night in pain she becomes very pale and picks up any illness going around she has bruises that appear for no apparent reason and yet nothing is being done! If people took more notice of childre then these illnesses would be caught sooner. I hope you accept my love for your family not with pity but with admiration of your unconditional love and strength.

  17. A mother’s worst nightmare. You write about Oliver’s life with such bravery and to share with those your deepest experiences. There are many of us touched by loved ones with cancer. We all experience the same grief and deal with it in different ways. Praying for you and your family to receive some solace.

  18. Words really cant begin to express… What a beautiful & strong little boy you must be a very proud Mummy. I pray for strength & healing for you and all your family. Your Angel may be gone from the world as we know it but he is always around you, looking over you & loving you. RIP Angel

  19. Whilst reading your story I couldn’t keep from crying. What a lovely bright little boy, your Oliver. He was so young and so brave to go through what he did. He will always be with you in your heart and your thoughts. I can’t begin to imagine what you have gone through as a mother, but please know that you’re not alone, Oliver is watching over you and the rest of his family with such love and affection. I really believe that. Sending my love and warmest wishes to you. xxx

  20. My heart is breaking for you as a read this. Found ur story from a website about another little boy called oliver. I pray that the happy memories will become stronger and that the aweful ones will gradually fade. you are not alone. hugz

  21. What can I say?
    Oliver is an inspiration to all the other children out there, for his strength in his fight against this cruel illness.
    You and your family were his inspiration, in your desire to love, care and nurture him through those difficult days.
    Your story is the inspiration to us ALL, in helping us to realise just how precious life is, and how in a few short moments, it can be turned upside down.
    God bless you all, and RIP Oliver xxxx

  22. I am so sorry for your loss you have such a handsome angel watching over you. I lost my Granddaughter a year and a half ago and it is a pain that never goes away. My prayers are with you and your family <3

  23. Nearly a year now since Oliver left us but he will never be forgotten. Never. We will work hard to keep his memory alive in all the mad, crazy ways he would have loved! Each time a dragon fly darts past I know he’s never far away.

  24. i never got to meet oliver on m3 as he was in isolation but i was on the ward with my daughter ashleigh at the same time and was so sad when i heard oliver had passed away i had seen you about and spoke to his grandad up at the pact house my heart goes out to you and your family ashleighs cancer has returned and we are now praying for a miricle xxxx

  25. So sad:( what a brave boy he was!:) my heart goes out to oliver and all his family and friends!! And too all other children that i have just read you story dealing and coping and fighting this illness be brave and be strong you can fight this, my thoughts go out to you all! My love is sent too you all!!!:) x

  26. Frances, Oliver is such a champion of everything worth living for. children earn their wings without question, the gates of heaven are swung open πŸ™‚
    yeah, tears as well, but for me what is important is now I know the story of a very brave little boy named Oliver Shaw, even now he reaches across the divide and touches us like the star he is.

    Happy Angel Birthday little Mate :’-)

    Frances……I understand:β€˜-)
    I hope this week delivers as little sadness as possible to you

  27. I lost my brother to leukaemia, in kind of the same circumstances. But a son, and at that tender age? It’s not something I can comprehend! That’s too far beyond my imagination.
    I won’t attempt any platitudes, except to say that my heart bleeds for Oli’s parents and extended family.

  28. Your story has touched my heart. I am so sorry for your loss, after all that battling you and your family, and you beautiful son went through. I hope time gives you the space to be able to carry on and find joy still xxxx

  29. I am so sorry for you loss.,I also have a son of 7 he is my whole world and can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for all of you.xxxxx

  30. Oliver was a most remarkable little boy. He fought his losing battle with Leukeamia with so much spirit and bravery, the pain and suffering He must have endured is beyond belief. His family put his well being before all else in their lives .during the period between him being diagnosed and his death in September 2011. There is a saying ” The good die young ” in Oliver’s case this was certainly true.

  31. Frances… I can’t begin to imagine what you have gone through, and continue to go through. My heart aches for you. I wish you the very very best, and I know that your beautiful boy would be so very proud of you for your bravery. Xxx

  32. I cannot even begin to understand the pain or express how sad I feel for you but when I look at the pictures of your beautiful son I see a light in his eyes x you will be together again one day hold on to all your precious memories of your brave boy and god bless all of you xx

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