|Yasmin and Isaac enjoying Isaac's new reading corner in his bedroom|
One of the community nurses comes every week to take Yasmin’s blood so that her levels can be monitored and her chemotherapy adjusted accordingly. It’s important also to know when Yasmin’s immune system is suppressed so that we can keep her at home and away from infection.
“Do you remember when you were very sick and you couldn’t walk and the doctors made you better with chemotherapy?” I tried to find the right words. "Well, the nurse takes blood to check you are still better. You are all better now, aren't you. But she needs to take the blood and you take the medicine so that your leukaemia does not come back. But Michele will not be coming for ever. In a few months, she will not come anymore and you will not need to have your blood tested this way any more.”
Yasmin, at three and a half, is much more aware now of all the procedures that go with her treatment for leukaemia. How do you explain this illness to a child in a way that is reassuring and positive?
She seemed satisfied with my explanation and we moved on to talking about Little Miss Sunshine. When Andrew came home, Yasmin proudly told him: “Michele came to prick my finger for bloods, and I take my chemotherapy so that I am better.” We are always astonished at how much our little girl absorbs and accepts.
I watched Piers Morgan interview Ian Botham about his life achievements, recently. Undoubtedly, Botham is most famous for his incredible cricket career – but for our family and many others, he is a hero for the tireless fundraising that he has done for leukaemia research. He efforts are quite literally helping to save Yasmin’s life.
As he told Piers, he first met four children with leukemia in a hospital in Taunton in 1977 after he had broken his foot while playing against Australia.
All four boys died over the six-week period that he was being treated. Survival rates were at 20% for the type of leukaemia that Yasmin has and there was very little research being carried out in the UK. Beefy was determined to change this.
He began walking across the country in 1985 to raise money for research – his first walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats raised £1million and so far he has helped raise £12m for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and is President of the charity. It is thanks to research that survival rates for Yasmin’s type of leukaemia are now at 93%.
Research - thanks to the huge generosity of people who donate or give up their time to support charities - saves lives. Of course, not every child who has leukaemia will be cured and there are other cancers that affect children where the survival rates are shockingly low. This is why the walks and fundraising must continue.
But for now, thank you, Sir Ian for all you have done for our family and all the other families like us. Words really cannot express how we feel.