Posted on Thursday 29 April 2021
Sammy’s story – “We didn’t want to be having the conversations we were having.”
Last year, Dionne’s family faced the toughest challenge imaginable when her son Sammy was diagnosed with cancer aged 16. Here Dionne’s shares Sammy’s story and talks about why she has decided to leave a gift in her will to CLIC Sargent.
“My son Sammy was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in September 2019 when he was 16 years old. He’d been having pains in one of his legs every few months, but we just put it down to growing pains. Over the summer I felt his leg and it was rock hard, and you could see something wasn’t quite right. We took him to see the GP who was amazing. He took one look at Sammy and knew exactly what it was. We had to go straight for an x-ray, and then back to see him the next day. There was no messing around.
“After the x-ray and MRI, we went to Stanmore Hospital in London to see a specialist and have more MRI scans. He was officially diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in the September, three weeks after initially going to see the GP.
“It was awful, to be honest. I hated the doctor – my sister and I were saying ‘how dare he scare us’, and that when we find out it was just something simple, I would be putting in a letter of complaint. But in fact, he probably saved Sammy’s life! It was just all such a shock.
“He started his treatment pretty soon after we had the official diagnosis. His first chemotherapy was in October and he was treated through to March 2020. We had to go into hospital fortnightly, and he’d stay in for either three or five days. He also had 25 sessions of radiotherapy before having an operation to remove the tumour on his fibula bone in April.
“Since then it’s all been fine. His scar has taken a long time to heal, but finally it’s very nearly there. It’s a big scar as the tumour was about 5 and a half inches and runs from his knee to his ankle. It had wrapped around one nerve, which has left him unable to lift his foot, but he’s fine. Luckily it hadn’t spread anywhere, which was the main worry.
“I’m so thankful his last treatment was the only one effected by the pandemic. The staff on the ward were amazing, we saw Julia our CLIC Sargent Social Worker all the time, but for that very last treatment we had to go into a completely different ward. Luckily I could stay with him, but we didn’t get a chance to say good bye to the team who had been so brilliant. It must be so awful if you’re going through treatment now.”
CLIC Sargent support
“We first met Julia, our CLIC Sargent Social Worker, before we’d even started treatment. It was a really scary time, we didn’t want to be having the conversations we were having but you just have to.
“Our business was really struggling and CLIC Sargent helped us financially. Particularly when our boiler and washing machine broke. They also got Sammy a new phone so he could keep in touch with his friends. All of this was not long after Sammy had been diagnosed, and I just couldn’t focus on anything other than him. CLIC Sargent were a godsend.
“Julia has obviously dealt with this many times. She has kept in contact, I have her number and she’s always there if we need her.”
Julia, our CLIC Sargent Social Worker was lovely. It was great Sammy could talk to her because she wasn’t someone he had to be strong for."
“My husband had to take on everything to do with the fish and chip shop we ran because I just couldn’t. I was in hospital with Sammy so much, I couldn’t focus on anything.
“We’ve since got rid of the shop and started other jobs. When you’ve been through something like we’ve been through, everything else is insignificant. You just don’t worry about anything else, and we thought enough was enough.
“Sammy was due to start college when he was diagnosed, so he missed a whole year. He’s started now and is doing so well and enjoying it. It’s been nice for him to be able to go back and be a normal teenage boy with his two older brothers.
“Sammy’s doing well, but it’s still hard. It’s something I’ve spoken to our CLIC Sargent Social Worker Julia about, these feelings aren’t going to go away for years.”
Every night I think about it. We've just got to stay positive now that it's not going to come back. As a parent it's as bad going back for the follow-up scans, as it was going through treatment."
Including CLIC Sargent in our will
“Writing our Will was something we’d been putting off for years.. We still hadn’t got around to doing it, and then last year we saw an ad pop up on Facebook from CLIC Sargent about using the Farewill website to write a will and I thought, right, let’s just do it. We decided to include a gift to CLIC Sargent in our Will because we just wanted to help the charity. It’s just a little something to help and give back. It was a relief to know we’d finally written it, and nice to be able to help CLIC Sargent.”Fine out more about leaving a gift in your Will