In May 2019, my precious son Artie had been poorly on and off for a month or so, and fast deteriorating. On 29th May 2019, I found a large lump in his tummy and as a Mum, felt that awful sinking feeling, I knew something was really wrong. When we woke the following morning, his whole torso was distended and covered in dark veins. I called the GP and got an urgent appointment, only to be told to go home, pack a bag and they were sending us to the hospital and be prepared to stay in. I was so distraught I had a panic attack. I called my sister and told her, I know its cancer. I was so frightened.
We arrived at Southend Hospital and it wasn't long before we were taken down for an ultrasound on the tummy. I can't tell you the dread I felt standing there while the room filled with different people and everyone while they all looked at the very large lump taking over my sons tummy. They also mentioned fluid in the lungs. I felt like I was watching someone else nightmare but it was my own. My precious little baby. I just felt so sick and scared. Artie was oblivious to what was going on thankfully. We went back to the ward and a consultant came to see us and said they were looking at him possibly having a condition called Neuroblastoma, which is a type of cancer. I was gutted. Although I knew what they were thinking, the reality of hearing them confirm my fears was just awful.
Later that day, they got a cannula into his tiny hand and took blood. Once they had bloods they said it was more likely to be a lymphoma and that we would be sent to Great Ormond Street the following day. They started him on fluids straight away. The following day, Artie's face all puffy from the fluids, we were taken to GOSH by ambulance and told to head for the Giraffe ward. What I didn't realise at the time, was just how amazing, this wonderful team of nurses, drs and consultants on this ward were. We arrived on Friday afternoon and he was under general anaesthetic in the emergency theatre on Saturday morning where they fitted a Hickman Line (a line direct into the vein of the heart), took a biopsy of the lump (which I later found out was around 11cmx11cmx6cm - huge in his tiny tummy), took spinal fluid and a bone marrow aspirate to see how far this awful disease had spread. He also had to have a CT scan while Paul and I held his screaming tiny body down, it was so traumatic for us all. That afternoon we had our diagnosis. Burkitts Lymphoma, a frighteningly fast growing cancer. He also had a ton of fluid in his lungs and needed help breathing. They started his chemo straight away. Another week, if I had missed it and it doesn't even bare thinking about what could have happened.
For the next 7 weeks, we didn't leave Giraffe Ward. The incredible nurses there made a terrible time bearable, they were not only caring for Artie in the most lovely way, but were also a shoulder to cry on, someone to share worries with and the people who would tiptoe in at night like a mouse just so you got a good nights sleep.
Artie is still currently receiving treatment at the moment and Giraffe Ward is fundraising £50'000 to help raise funds to improve facilities for families like us who are staying on the ward long term. We have decided to fundraise for this ward rather than for ourselves to help other people who suffer the same sad journey as we have.
Thank you for all your support xx Gemma, Paul and Artie xx
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