Robert by Ken West

In the autumn of 2001 our son, Robert, who was under 3 years old at the time caught a cold like virus which seemed to clear up ok. For about a week or so he was fine …then he started to show other symptoms – paleness, extreme tiredness, aching limbs and bruising for no apparent reason. Eventually he could not easily stand up. At this point we took him to our local GP. When he saw Robert’s condition (and we will always be grateful to him for this!) he immediately referred us! Straight away he told us to take him to our local hospital to have tests, and advised them in advance to expect us. This was late morning, I believe. By early evening we had been transferred, by ambulance, to Cambridge having had an initial diagnosis of …leukaemia.

Over three nightmare years of chemotherapy treatment then started, with the agony of many transfusions, pain, sickness, diarrhoea, hair loss, infections, loss of weight, and various medical procedures and tests. I can honestly say that that year was the worst of our lives!

However, we have been one of the lucky families for whom the treatment has apparently worked. Robert has come through it all, and seems to have beaten the cancer. He is now more than 5 years off treatment!

We have joined BCCA because, as we know well from talking to many other parents, a real problem (still) exists with late and mis-diagnosis of childhood cancers, and lack of research funding. We believe that to tackle these problems “awareness” is required, and this is what BCCA is all about. I am sure that together (using our combined experience) we can make a big difference for all the families who, sadly, will need our help in the future.

As Mary Riecke says in her poem: “One Family” –

We are one family
you and I —
Not by birth or legal joining
Not by choice, and definitely not by desire
But by a commonality given to us by the unseen
Seeking peace with uncertainty
Needing the support of another
who has known