Posted on Friday 19 November 2021

Patrick’s story: “The search immediately came up with Leukaemia and that’s when I knew”

“It’s hard to describe the moment we were told Patrick had cancer. I remember walking down the hospital and I just felt sick, not knowing what to do with myself.”

When his sporty and lively six-year-old son Patrick had no energy over Christmas and wasn’t acting like himself, Dad Gerard started to worry. His parents were told it was most likely a ‘Christmas virus’ but a few weeks later, Patrick still wasn’t any better so they took him into hospital.

“After the bloods were taken we were approached by a doctor who was asking lots of questions, they seemed to be the same questions over and over again; at that point I knew something wasn’t right”

Patrick was later transferred to an isolation ward at St George’s hospital. That’s when the doctor started to go into more detail about Patrick’s blood tests.

“Some of his blood counts were really low and others really high, we received all of this overwhelming information but weren’t told of a definite diagnosis.”

Gerard had to leave the hospital to pick up their daughter, who had been at school. When he got home, he started to look up what the doctor had said about Patrick’s bloods on the internet.

“The search immediately came up with Leukaemia and that’s when I knew.”

The following day, Gerard spoke to the doctors about the research he had done and the doctors said it could be leukaemia but they needed to do more tests to confirm.

“It was the days leading up to the diagnosis that stick with me, it was traumatic, we didn’t know exactly what was wrong but we knew it was something serious.”

They eventually received Patrick’s diagnosis on the 8th January 2019.

Patrick has been having treatment for the past two years or so since his diagnosis. He has to have a lumbar puncture every month, which effects his appetite. However, he also takes a course of steroids which make his appetite go through the roof so it is a challenge for his parents to manage the balance.

Patrick has also lost his hair several times, due to the duration of his treatment.

“He would pull his hair out because of the medication he was on which was really upsetting. We’ve had to stop him from pulling his hair out on several occasions.”

Just after receiving Patrick’s diagnosis, they were introduced to Lucy, their Young Lives vs Cancer social worker. Since meeting, Lucy has been a great support to the whole family.

“Lucy was the first person we had come across that didn’t tell us negative news, she told us how she would support us and provided us with some reassurance.”

As well as generally being there for the family and brining positivity to their experience, Lucy was specifically supportive to Gerard. Just eight days after Patrick was diagnosed, Gerard’s Dad passed away. Lucy helped Gerard during this tough time.

“I didn’t know what to do, I had to keep strong for my children, my wife and my mum. I cannot begin to tell you how much Lucy helped. She was so caring and was genuinely upset she was when she heard about my Dad. You could just tell that she was the perfect person for the job she was doing.”

As well as emotional support, Lucy also helped the family to access financial support to help face the costs of a cancer diagnosis.

“The grants provided by Young Lives vs Cancer are a lifeline. I had to stop working to look after Patrick. If we weren’t getting the money we are from the grants I don’t know what we would do.

“Lucy was so brilliant, she showed us how to fill out all the awful forms we were faced with, and she was the only person that offered us any help with things like that.”

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