Another Friday night, another admission to hospital. A shorter stay this time and we were released on Saturday afternoon, once the doctors were satisfied that Poppy’s temperature was under control and she was well enough in herself to recuperate at home. We were due to attend a 3rd birthday party later that day, which I had been really looking forward to. We’d received the invitation before Poppy was diagnosed, so we knew it might be hard to attend, but all the signs had been pointing the right way this week until that additional admission.

The 3 year old in question is one of the 7 toddlers from our original postnatal group, introduced by the health visitors when we all had babies between February – May 2015. I say original, as there are now 7 siblings too! The littlest one born just two weeks ago. After being released from hospital, I was hoping we would still manage to make it to the party, but Poppy was exhausted from her late night sleepover so we curled up together on the sofa instead. Our first meet up with the complete set of siblings will have to wait for another day!

I felt a strange mix of emotions after tucking Poppy into bed last night, which culminated in me wallowing in tears for most of the evening, unsure of exactly why or what had caused it. No single thing jumps out, just an overwhelming mix of all the thoughts and feelings swirling around my head. I haven’t cried like that since the ballet dancing realisation, and before that it was during our first few days in Bristol hospital. For someone who cries at most things, whether happy or sad, it’s felt strange that the tears haven’t flowed more often about this. Almost as if it’s too big to process and my body hasn’t quite accepted it yet.

The overwhelming positivity we feel and daily strength we find for Poppy keeps us going most of the time, but the lows when they arrive are truly crushing. This isn’t just crying. A small sob and a sniffle. It’s as if the tears are leaking out of me, uncontrollably, like a burst water tap and nothing can turn it off for hours on end. Utter despair and the feeling of being completely helpless – at times like this I know we need help, but I don’t even know where to begin with who, how, what or when. There are so many wonderful people around us doing wonderful things to ease our pain, but the one thing none of us can do is change the fact that Poppy has Leukaemia. At least not instantly. The doctors and nurses are working hard to do exactly that, and one day, in just over two years time when this is all over, I suspect there will be tears like this of a different kind!

Poppy and I were much brighter after a good night’s sleep in our own beds. Chattering and giggling this morning, I asked her what she would like to wear today, as I do most days. The answer is usually a dress, and today was no different, except she asked for her sparkly party dress, usually saved for special occasions. This decision made my eyes water and my heart fill with joy. Summing up our whole family philosophy in her carefully selected choice of outfit, it seems that as Poppy couldn’t make it to the party yesterday, she chose to party today instead! This positive start to the day was just what I needed to shake off the darkness of the evening before. A party dress it was, complete with sparkly tights and a sparkly smile – the best accessory of all.

Poppy finds the positives everywhere she looks. As much as I love the NHS, I have to say the food in Gloucester could do with some reconditioning. During our recent 3 night stay, we tried to source food from elsewhere but it wasn’t always possible. Upon being served a hospital dish of broccoli, potatoes and pasta, which looked quite frankly unappetising at the best of times, Poppy simply remarked: “My pasta looks like rainbows!” When I looked closer, I saw what she meant. Poppy loves rainbows. I can see why, as I feel the same way – they’re so beautiful, fleeting and magical. Poppy also loves to draw and rainbows are a great way to use all of the colours!

There’s a bell on the children’s oncology wards. An end of treatment rainbow bell that signals the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free from cancer. My throat constricts every time I walk past it, picturing the day that Poppy will ring it. It’s a long way off and a long road to travel, but we know the direction we’re going and it’s going to be full of sunshine and rain, and a whole load of rainbows x

2 thoughts on “Rainbows

  1. I feel very much for you while you are experiencing your low times, Stephanie. It must be so hard to accept that dear Poppy has leukaemia, and it’s not something you can process all in one go. Perhaps, as with all deep emotions, there is an ebb and a flow, and maybe you can never totally accept the stark, cruelty of the illness. Once she is cured, you will be shedding tears of joy and gratitude, and, in the meantime, maybe you can find comfort in knowing you and your family are inspiring others in their journey to remain brave and positive. I read somewhere that when we are at our lowest ebb, the grief and pain are carving a vessel large enough to contain the happiness and thanksgiving which, in time, will follow. I have a picture in my mind’s eye of Poppy glowing in her sparkly dress, eating a meal of rainbows! Margaret x


    1. Thank you so much for these beautiful, comforting words Margaret. I’ve read over them many times and never quite got around to thanking you for taking the time to write them. I love the image of the ebb and flow, and the meal of rainbows! xx


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