Posted on Thursday 13 December 2018
Daniel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in December 2016 when he was just six-years-old. While he was in hospital his parents and younger brother Conor stayed at CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home, Marion’s House, keeping the family together.
Daniel’s mum Alison started worrying about him after he became unwell with a high temperature while on a family holiday. Up to this point, Daniel had been an exceptionally well child so for his parents it became obvious quickly that something was wrong.
When Daniel started to go off his food and suffer with frequent tummy paints Alison, a GP herself, took him to the doctors where she asked for a blood test. The tests came back abnormal, and by then Alison was becoming suspicious that it could be leukaemia.
After more tests at the local hospital in Inverness Daniel was transferred to Glasgow where they ran a bone marrow test which came back inconclusive. A couple of days later, a further test showed that he had cancer.
Alison says: “I suppose I was in shock and denial. Denial and anger are all the things I hear my patients talking about when they get a cancer diagnosis, and I felt no different.
“We told Daniel that he had cancer and I didn’t really think he’d know what cancer meant. The first thing he asked was ‘Am I going to die?’. It was tough, but we talked to him about how the chemotherapy was going to take the cancer cells away and make him better.”
“The first few weeks went by in a blur, particularly because it was Christmas. Christmas is a time for family and you don’t want to be in hospital.”
As Daniel was being treated 180 miles from home, the family were able to stay together thanks to CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home, Marion’s House.
Alison says: “The Home from Home was a lifeline for us. My husband was able to stay at the home whilst we were in the hospital, so he was there to support us during those early weeks, whilst also making sure our younger son Conor was also okay.
“When Christmas came he took Conor and all of the Christmas presents to the Home, so that we could be together and have some kind of normality. Kevin and Conor woke up in the Home from Home on Christmas Day, while I was over in the ward with Daniel.
“The home was phenomenal at Christmas; it was full of presents and hampers that had been donated to families staying there. Without the Home from Home I’m not sure what we’d have done – we would’ve been lost without it.”
Daniel has now moved on to maintenance treatment.
Alison said: “When they tell you that your child has to have three years of chemo it feels like a life sentence, but we are getting through it the best we can. We managed to have Christmas at home in 2017 and we hope for the same this year.”
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The establishment of the Taskforce comes after almost two years of campaigning by Young Lives vs Cancer and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), who together have been calling on UK government to implement a dedicated Children and Young People’s Cancer Plan.
Dominique Davis will take up her new role at the end of January