Last week was a good news sort of week. Tuesday was a hospital theatre day, with Poppy in the sweetest of moods. We spent the morning giggling over a sand art picture, donated by Artisand UK after we came across them at the Cricklade Festival. It’s a great activity, using tubes of coloured sand to fill a pre-printed sticker picture. Poppy was totally absorbed in it, smiling and laughing as she carefully selected her sand colours and later declared it her favourite part of the day. It was the perfect length of time to occupy us both until the anaesthetic nurse arrived to escort us down to theatre. Poppy no longer needs the banana we used to sneak in afterwards, and now waits patiently until we return to the ward for her first meal of the day.
The theatre list is performed in age order with the youngest at the top, which usually means Poppy is first. However, this week we had the pleasure of meeting another little girl with ALL who is six months younger than Poppy and three months ahead of her treatment-wise. I still have a lump in my throat when I think of the moment Poppy looked up to see her, exclaiming excitedly: “That little girl has got hair just like me!” It’s so important for Poppy to be able to make sense of the crazy world we’ve found ourselves in, and develop a sense of belonging and attachment, so it was a real delight to see them playing together so happily.
We’ve received so many cards and messages to date, and rarely a week goes by without a parcel arriving for Poppy or a handwritten card reminding us that we’re being thought of daily. There have been packages from family members, former work colleagues and friends of friends/family that we’ve never even met. The farthest flung of these arrived this week all the way from Australia! Another heartwarming letter was not received by us directly, but passed on to the fairies to take care of by a very caring five year old friend of Poppy’s. I’ve asked her mum’s permission to share it below – if this doesn’t give you hope in the next generation, I don’t know what will.
I also had some lovely feedback from the Editor of a local publication after I sent in an article I’d written about giving blood. More details soon – it should go live on their website next week, and I do hope it will inspire people to register and add to our growing list of heroes. We had a beautiful handwritten card and donation from a neighbour, as well as a kind email from a local businessman outlining ways he could support us. Another happy envelope contained a family ticket to Legoland, courtesy of Hannah’s Holiday Home Appeal who were kind enough to apply to Merlin’s Magic Wand on our behalf. Preparations for a charity fair in Fairford are also underway and we’re honoured to be sharing the beneficiaries with another local family facing childhood cancer.
We’re truly blown away by each act of kindness which comes our way. It’s hard to express quite how much each gesture means to us and how much it lifts us up to know we are surrounded by such goodwill. Receiving the news that Poppy had Leukaemia was such a cruel blow that I can see how something like this could alter your perception of the world – it certainly spun ours around and tilted it on it’s axis. A big part of the reason why we feel able to continue thinking positively is down to the wonderful people who we’re fortunate to be sharing our world with and we will never have enough thank you’s to express our gratitude.
One of the remarkable discoveries in this whole adventure is the willing acceptance of Poppy’s peers to accept her change in circumstances without question. I’m still waiting for a fellow three year old to question her lack of hair or change in physical appearance and ability. They’re aware on some level that Poppy is “still a bit poorly” but for now, in this moment, they’re just pleased to see her and include her in their games the same way they have always done. Seeing her slot back into preschool after three months away was also a relief. Picking up where she left off, she took in her surroundings as if she’d never been away. It’s comforting to know that as hopefully this was her longest stint away and it’s clear that missing the odd day here and there won’t affect her much at all.
Poppy’s friends have kept me grounded, reminding me that at their tender age, they grow, change and develop all of the time. Poppy’s experiences at hospital and throughout her treatment will no doubt contribute to her learning and take on the world, but she’s still getting lots of experiences away from the hospital too. We’ve noticed a leap in her confidence in the last few weeks, whether through her exchanges with so many different people or the simple fact that she’s growing older and developing a more confident sense of self. It was lovely to see Poppy interacting with the CLIC Sargent nurse and support worker who visited our bedside in hospital this week. We see these two lovely ladies regularly, and Poppy has gradually come out of her shell and opened up to them, but this was the first time that I felt they finally got to meet the real Poppy. The one full of giggles and stories and an extensive vocabulary illuminated with animated hand gestures and face expressions.
We still strive to make it to Happy Beans each week. It is one of our only constants and has become an amazing marker of Poppy’s progress and how far we’ve all come since those early days. Each week, I think Poppy seems better and more herself, yet the week after brings even more hope and joy. It’s a safe, happy place full of friendship and laughter, and a day that begins with Happy Beans is usually a happy one as the feeling inevitably continues throughout the day. And because we usually nap together after our busy morning singing, dancing and socialising, we add well rested to the mix of good feelings too!
Our good news week continued with a message from my cousin to say the blood he donated last week had just been donated to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Of all the places for it to end up! A serendipitous end to a happy week x