Help Babies like Tom
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can have a huge impact on the whole family. Sadly, families like Tom’s know only too well what this is like.
Mum Karen is bravely sharing her family’s story about her son Tom’s cancer diagnosis, as part of our Summer Appeal. She’s encouraging you to give whatever you can afford so that families like hers can get the support they need.
Karen sadly lost her brother Graeme to cancer 23 years ago, when he was just 15 years old. She said that back then ‘there was absolutely no services for families like mine’. She never thought there would be a day when she herself would need the support of Cancer Fund for Children.
“Everything was fine for the first few hours”
“In 2015 I gave birth to my youngest son. Tom was delivered very quickly. Everything was fine for the first few hours. He was not even 12 hours old when he was transferred to the neo-natal ward at the Royal Victoria Hospital where he stayed for 4 weeks. It was whilst we were there that we were told that he had neuroblastoma.”
“At first we were advised to wait and see if it would disappear by itself, which can sometimes happen with babies, but when that didn’t work, the juggernaut that is cancer treatment and chemo started.”
“When Tom started treatment it was as if the cancer had robbed us of a normal family life. You can’t go out and show off the baby. You can’t do the things that other new mummies enjoy. It robs you of that special time. It was very isolating.”
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can have an impact on the whole family. Tom’s brother Robbie was 6 years old when Tom was born.
Cancer Fund for Children’s Specialists can provide one-to-one support to siblings who are worried, lonely and vulnerable whilst their sibling is in cancer treatment.
“It can be hard on any child when a new baby comes along but suddenly for Robbie, his mummy wasn’t there anymore. He was never sure who was picking him up from school as I had to spend so much time staying with Tom in the hospital. In the beginning, it had a really big impact with me being away a lot.
“We were also very worried about the risk of infection at home. Robbie wasn’t allowed on the ward or to have friends over. And when Tom had his line in, we had to be careful of Robbie being a bit too rough with him. We were very pre-occupied making sure that Tom was okay that Robbie felt a little side-lined.
“But Cancer Fund for Children was great with Robbie. Our Cancer Fund for Children Specialist Laura came out and did some one-to-one work with him. She took him to Gosford one day for a picnic. Robbie looked forward to Laura coming. The support gave him something to focus on – he doesn’t associate Laura with Tom being sick.”
Self Catering Short Breaks
Tom and his family were also able to benefit from a self-catering short break at our Cottages, on the banks of the River Bann in Coleraine.
Our self-catering cottages provide a private haven to families of a children diagnosed with cancer.
“We first stayed at the Cottages in July last year. Tom was still getting treatment and we were worried about the risk of infection and mixing with other children. That was our first family holiday together. We had peace of mind because we knew they would be very clean and the Community Children’s Nurse arranged for the local children’s community nurse to flush Tom’s line.”
Tom’s family also benefitted from a range of financial support to help them cope with the cost of cancer. They received a Road Miles grant to help with the cost of travelling to hospital and a Home Heating grant to help keep the family’s home warm whilst Tom was in treatment.
“I was on maternity leave. The costs of driving up and down to hospital for treatment and outpatient appointments, and paying for parking at the hospital all added up so these grants definitely helped to ease the financial burden.
Make a Difference Today
You could help babies like Tom by making a donation of whatever you can afford.
£30 can help pay for a Specialist to meet with a family like Tom’s who are facing cancer, to assess their needs and agree how best the charity can support them.
£50 could help pay for a short break at one of Cancer Fund for Children’s cottages, allowing a family to have special time together, away from the routine of hospital visits and treatment.
£200 could pay for a Home Heating grant to help keep a family’s home warm whilst their child’s immune system is supressed during treatment.
For more information about how we help families click here.
To DONATE, please click here.
Updated on: 30th May, 2017