Monday, 4 June 2018
This time of year is especially significant in my family's journey over the past 12 months.
On Mother's Day 2017, we had a family gathering at our house. I was 39 weeks pregnant and my mum was staying with us from then, until our baby was born. I am so thankful that she did, as we had no idea just how much support we were about to need.
Our son Henry, who was 7 at the time, had been in hospital a month earlier with suspected pneumonia, and I was still trying to get him to numerous follow up appointments, attend all of my prenatal appointments, and keep a relatively normal routine for our 8-year-old daughter Natalie. On the Monday after Mother's Day, I received a phone call to say Henry's blood results were concerning, and the next day we met doctors at the Women's and Children's Hospital. We did everything we could to remain positive throughout this time and on the Thursday, Mum and I stayed at home in Kapunda (in case I went into labour) while my husband, Jack and his Mum took Henry for a bone marrow biopsy. It was then that our lives changed forever, as Henry was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
We were in complete shock.
His treatment was due to commence within a few days, so I knew I needed to have a baby by then!
At 6:04am on the Saturday morning, in a rollercoaster of emotions, Bradley was born. My labour was extremely tough mentally, as I found it impossible to focus. Luckily, it all went well and we were able to come home to spend one night all together as a family before the beginning of Henry's treatment. While the timing of Bradley's arrival was extremely challenging, it has also been a huge blessing, as he has provided us with many positive distractions on some of our toughest and most terrifying days. He has also developed an amazing bond with both of his siblings.
Henry's treatment began when Bradley was just 2 days old. We were very well looked after by the staff in the Oncology Department at the Women's and Children's Hospital, who were able to coordinate everything needed for Henry, and my pre- and post-natal care with Bradley. One of the hardest things I've ever had to face as a Mum was having to stay strong and tell my child to be brave when I was so scared myself, as I have never been through anything close to what he was going through. Before I was pregnant with my first child at 25, I'd never even had a blood test. Now, by the age of 8, I've lost count of how many Henry's had – I'd be guessing well over 50, and he bravely takes a deep breath and just gets on with it. He has remained so strong and positive through 10 months of intensive Chemotherapy, involving many tests and procedures, numerous lumbar punctures and blood transfusions. So much for someone so young to have been through.
Henry is now on maintenance treatment and we have been very blessed to have had so much support around us both practically and emotionally throughout the past year. This helped us to stay positive and allowed us to focus on what is most important - our kids and their health, without the stresses of everyday routines.
We received a lot of support from family, friends and work mates, but also from organisations including the Little Heroes Foundation. Within the first couple of weeks, Little Heroes had organised fortnightly cleaning of our home and this continued throughout the duration of Henry's intensive treatment. We were so grateful, to know that we could come home to a clean house, especially when Henry's immunity was low. Little Heroes have also helped us with parking near the hospital on many occasions and extended to us invitations to some very special events, including a family cabin at the Adelaide Shores biggest sleepover in December and then in March this year, tickets for Jack and Henry to attend the Adelaide 500 Premier's event. Both of these events were so special, especially for the kids and allowed us to escape from the world of treatment for a while.
I will also never forget my first visit to the Little Heroes office - Henry was staying on the ward and I walked in with Bradley screaming and feeling very frazzled. I'm not sure if they remember it, but I certainly do. I was welcomed straight in to a comfy chair, and we just chatted while I fed the baby. It was very reassuring to have somewhere to go and someone to talk to in that moment when I felt so overwhelmed.
Last September we loved being involved in the City to Bay. Participating for the Little Heroes Foundation was a way that we felt we could give back a little bit and we were supported by a large group of friends and family who also just wanted to do something! We look forward to being involved in this event in the future again.
This time of year holds a lot of significance for many families, who are all in different stages of their lives after diagnosis. It is also a significant time for Little Heroes Foundation, as we come to the end of the financial year. End of financial year is a perfect time for you to give love to our Little Heroes, to not only receive the additional tax benefit of donating to a worthy cause, but also to know that you are helping us allocate more funding towards our Little Heroes Care program for the next 12 months.
As we search through a number of options for our next major project, we are focused on supporting children and families that need our support, just like Henry.
You can make a secure, tax deductible donation via our GiveEasy donation page by clicking this button below:
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