A&E department at Royal Preston Hospital to check it wasn’t meningitis, but it turned out to be petechiae. The hospital doctor kept him in overnight to run tests and then the next day I was told they’d found “blasts” in his blood. I didn’t know what that meant. We were then transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital as they said “Manchester are better with blood disorders”. I wasn’t told Jacob had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia until after we’d been placed on a bed within the Paediatric Oncology ward.
When the oncology consultant told me Jacob had blood cancer it felt like the world collapsed on top of us. In an instant I was dealing with shock, denial - I was hoping they’d made a mistake, guilt for not being more insistent with asking my GP to investigate, and the absolutely terrifying, increasing fear that my son may not live through this. Having to control my emotions as I listened to the consultants explain Jacob’s particular diagnosis, his treatment plan and prognosis whilst I cuddled him was the first of many harrowing experiences we would all face. The second was when I realised I didn’t know how I was going to tell Jacob’s older brother Tom that his baby brother was seriously ill.
Supporting Jacob through his illness really fractured our family. Tom couldn’t bear to see Jacob and so many other children on the ward suffering so he was unable to come and visit us in hospital. I had to leave Tom with various other family members so I could be with Jacob 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Jacob’s been through the most horrendous fight for his life, particularly during his stays in ICU after he had a reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs and no-one knew if he’d pull through. It was heart-breaking to watch my child suffering, I would have given anything to take his place. As Jacob’s condition improved,
I always tried to make the most of the rare days we could be together as a family over the last few years, but the stress of finding these opportunities and hoping Jacob would be well enough for them made them less enjoyable than I wished they could have been. I feel like Jacob and Tom have missed out on an important few years of their lives together - Jacob’s first early years and Tom’s last years of childhood before he goes off to college. It’s also been hard to cope financially as I’ve had to rely on carer’s benefits and charity since he was diagnosed.
Lennox CCF provided us with a much-needed break away from our worries when they very kindly gave us a week’s respite holiday along the beautiful coast of Hampshire. Jacob had his last dose of chemotherapy on the day before our holiday started so it was a really emotional time for me and I’m so grateful I had the chance to escape with my children, have a wonderful adventure together, and celebrate Jacob’s amazing achievement. It will take around 6 to 9 months for Jacob to recover fully but our week away was also special because it helped me to start thinking about my family’s future with hope and aspiration - something I hadn’t been able to allow myself to do since Jacob’s diagnosis. The level of care and support we have received from the Lennox CCF Team has been phenomenal. I felt so safe knowing they were on hand to help me take care of everything if Jacob became unwell during our holiday and needed hospital care whilst we were so far away from home. I can’t thank them enough.
Jacob is now a couple of weeks past the end of his treatment and doing very well so far. September will be a milestone month for us as Jacob starts his Reception year at school and Tom starts further education at College. For now though we are all enjoying the rest of this beautiful, first, post-treatment summer together that was spectacularly kicked off by Lennox CCF.