When Poppy came home from pre-school feeling tired, little did we know what was to come. The high temperature and high heart rate she developed and sustained over the following days lead to a call to NHS Direct, an out of hours GP visit and ultimately an admission to Gloucester Hospital that same evening. A chest x-ray followed, alongside an ultrasound and numerous blood samples – the first two came back clear, but the blood results were still niggling the consultant. A gut instinct that something was amiss. A blood transfusion was arranged ahead of a transfer by ambulance to Bristol Children’s Hospital for a bone marrow aspirate to take place under general anesthetic. The results were returned the next day and delivered to Graham and I with Poppy sitting on my lap.
Poppy has Leukaemia.
I recall muttering the words repeatedly under my breath in an attempt to attach meaning to them and make sense of what was happening. I’ve never imagined how I would react if I was told that one of my children has cancer, but even in that moment, we were conscious enough to protect Poppy from our shock and fear. We took it in turns to read books to her, whilst simultaneously making plans for who needed to be told and how. I have trouble piecing together what happened after I told my parents over the phone. I certainly can’t remember much else of that day, except lying next to Poppy in her hospital bed as she drifted off to sleep, blissfully unaware of the significance of the day’s events.
The next day is clearer. Officially Day 1 of treatment – long, draining and exhausting. A marathon of a day with seemingly more hours than usual and everything ticking by so slowly. So much information to process and shock to absorb, all whilst still taking care of Poppy in the usual ways – feeding, clothing and entertaining her.
Ironically, her appetite returned today, just in time for her first trip to theatre meaning she was nil by mouth from 7am until 5pm. Not a pleasant experience for anyone, but now imagine being 3 and feeling confused and upset because you’re hungry and the people who love you the most won’t let you eat.
Holding Poppy in my arms as she wilted to sleep from the general anesthetic is another experience I will find hard to forget. Then kissing her peaceful cheek and leaving her in the theatre with the amazing professionals tasked with ridding her tiny body of this devastating disease. I’m in awe of everyone we’ve met, everyone who works in the hospital and spends their time collaborating on this most important of projects. Teamwork greater than I’ve ever appreciated before.
Day 1 of Treatment. A long road ahead.
But we’re gaining so much strength from the wonderful people around us and that includes the kind words in the many, many messages of love, support and positive energy we are receiving daily. Words of wisdom such as these from my Dad:
Day 1 of Treatment.
“But one day less.”