About this blog

This blog documents the story of our family after our daughter Yasmin was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was two years old, just six weeks after our son Isaac was born. Now, three, Yasmin is on maintenance treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) until October 2014. The first post can be found here or you can read how my husband Andrew and I felt when we got the diagnosis and when Yasmin started the most intense phase of treatment. The main purpose of the blog is to raise awareness of childhood leukaemia and its impact on families and to raise money for the different charities that have supported us during the most difficult of times. We have helped to raise £33,000 for charity so far, including £30,000 for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital where Yasmin is undergoing treatment. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at our JustGiving page HERE. All money raised goes directly to into research, better facilities and care. We are now also raising money for Haven House Children's Hospice where Yasmin has been attending for respite care. You can get more information on Facebook or you can follow me on Twitter here.
The blog and our fundraising efforts regularly feature in national newspapers and magazines while the BBC has covered our fundraising here and ITV here.

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Sunday, 30 December 2012

DELAYED INTENSIFICATION


Isaac eats his presents
Yasmin and Isaac enjoyed a lovely family Christmas enveloped in love and warmth. My parents travelled down on Christmas Eve and so they were there for the excited early morning present opening after Father Christmas had visited.  Yasmin was suitably thrilled by the mountain of gifts under the tree while Isaac delighted in rustling around in the wrapping paper.
Grandmother Sandra, Andrew’s brother and his girlfriend, and my brother arrived later with yet more gifts while Andrew and I cooked up dinner for ten (including the kids) helped by my dad on roast potato and gravy duty. As Isaac started on solids a few weeks ago he was also able to join us with mushy vegetables, although most went onto his Christmas clothes. Yasmin loved having lots of relatives to boss around, and to test drive her new toys, while Isaac rewarded everyone with smiles.
On Boxing Day, Andrew and I managed to get away for a night while my parents babysat. It was fantastic to have a break together but we had to be back early the next day for the start of the next phase of Yasmin’s treatment: the ominously sounding Delayed Intensification.
This is the final stage of the first six months before Yasmin enters maintenance for 18 months. It is good to be at this stage as it means that we don't have long to go until maintenance, which will mean only monthly scheduled hospital appointments.
However, we have both been dreading it due to the horrendous cocktail of chemotherapies that Yasmin has to take over the next seven weeks. We have been told that this is the time when children are most likely to suffer from sickness and hair loss due to the strength of the chemotherapies. Of course, Yasmin has lost most of her hair already but we now expect the rest to drop out too.
The community nurse visited on Boxing Day to reaccess Yasmin’s port so my parents witnessed the weekly trauma Yasmin endures and will continue to endure for the next two years when she has a needle inserted into her chest so that she can have her central line, or 'wiggly', deliver medicine and take blood. Although anaesthetic cream numbs the pain, she still shakes with fear when being accessed. She does recover almost immediately, however.
After the nurse had been, Yasmin was playing with her ‘wiggly’ when she looked at my mother and said, sadly: “I’ve got leukaemia.” My mother said it almost broke her heart.
As Yasmin has not had any treatment for a couple of weeks other than oral chemotherapy, she had got used to living without her wiggly.  Perhaps, she had imagined that she was well now and hospital visits were finished with. Having it suddenly back in again must have made her realise that this is not over yet. And it is impossible to explain to a two-year-old with no proper concept of time when this will end. Certainly, we are consoled by the knowledge that Yasmin will barely remember any of this in a couple of years.
On the 27th, Andrew took Yasmin into our local hospital for vincristine chemotherapy to be administered into her wiggly. Although the procedure takes just ten minutes and he had returned from our hotel stay especially early, the medicine had not been prepared and they ended up spending four hours just waiting around.
The next day, I plucked Yasmin out of bed still half asleep to put her in the car for her trip to GOSH for more chemo in her spine and an hour-long infusion of a chemo that she had not had before. She also started back on a seven day course of steroids at much larger doses than she had had before. We are prepared for the storm.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

NEUTROPHILS RECOVERED


Andrew returned from India on December 1 to a joyful homecoming. Yasmin, as always, was delighted to have her daddy back and immediately began dancing around the house.
The day before, I had taken her to GOSH for our shortest visit yet at only ten minutes.
Our consultant explained that there was nothing unusual in her blood to show that she was reacting to her oral chemotherapy and as the latest blood tests had revealed her neutrophils were starting to recover without G-CSF, everything appeared to be running to plan at last.
Andrew and I took the children to a Christmas party with a group of friends that we had known since Yasmin was born. All of the couples have girls the same age as Yasmin and they danced and sang together at the party.
Andrew had not seen Yasmin interacting with other children for a short while and he found it difficult. Yasmin had been the most sociable of the girls until her illness. She had been one of the first to talk and had always shot off away from Andrew and I, keen to mingle with her friends away from the arms of her parents.
But now she was the quietest child, clinging to mummy.
Two of the girls spent half an hour jumping off the furniture. But Yasmin has lost a lot of confidence in her physicality due to the fact she couldn't walk for a long time and because she has to be protective of her wiggly. Instead, she sat in front of a child's version of a vanity chair and mirror trying to comb her non-existent hair and put clips into.
Despite these reminders of her illness, it was great to be out at a social gathering as a family and Yasmin really enjoyed herself. Isaac also enjoyed being fussed over by the other girls.
Talking about it later that evening, Andrew and I both agreed that due to the amount of time spent with doctors and nurses and other professional adults, Yasmin is extremely confident in adult company and we are sure her confidence with other children will return when she is completely well and able to start nursery.
The next day, Yasmin, noticing my hair was soaking wet after a shower, started to touch it and then came out with: “Where’s my hair gone?”
I explained that the medicine she takes to make her naughty blood cells better makes her hair come out but it will all grow back next year. She didn’t seem at all upset by it but of course it is impossible to know what she is really thinking.
However, Yasmin has been well and not in hospital apart from scheduled appointments for three weeks now. By December 12, her neutrophils had reached 5.4 which is the highest they have been in a very long time. 
We have been having a lovely time with friends coming over to visit and play all day and have attended a number of Christmas parties.
One good friend Gabriella, has been coming over most weeks and when she visits Yasmin has fun getting all of her musical toys and outlandish head gear out of her play room to have ‘a disco party’. Yasmin has also started a yoga class for children with special needs at our local children’s centre which has helped her gain a little bit more mobility and confidence.
I have been feeling far more in control as I have learnt to ask for help when it is needed. The act of writing the blog also helps me deal with what is happening to us. Each time I write a particularly distressing blog, it is at a time when the event I am writing about is over and I can read it as though it is about somebody else.
This week, we attended the GOSH Christmas Party at a hotel near to the hospital where Yasmin and Isaac met and chatted to Father Christmas, danced with a monkey and a chicken, Yasmin had her face painted like a cat and was sprinkled with Fairy Dust. We also took the children to see Peppa Pig at the theatre. Sat right next to the speakers, Isaac stared in amazement for an hour before falling asleep while Yasmin clapped and cheered for Peppa every time she came on to the stage.
Best of all, Isaac is now at the magical age – at five and a half months - where he can interact properly with Yasmin. He has got into a daytime routine of three naps in his cot which gives me the time to concentrate on Yasmin when he is asleep. And, although there are still moments of jealously, on the whole, Yasmin is a lovely big sister. Isaac’s eyes never leave Yasmin when she is dressing up and pulling funny faces. At bedtime, she takes his hands and sings nursery rhymes to him and he chuckles from the depths of his belly with joy. At those times, I hold my two children tightly and feel truly blessed.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

IN OUT, IN OUT


Yasmin in the play room at GOSH
I telephoned and spoke to one of the nurses at GOSH who advised me that there was nothing too much to worry about in Yasmin’s persistent neutropenia and that if it was found that her body was reacting to the oral chemotherapy she would simply be given smaller doses. It should not affect her treatment or her overall outcome. This came as a big relief.
Andrew went to India on a week-long business trip on November 24 and my mother came to stay to help me with the two children. I couldn't manage for the whole week on my own with them and I needed someone there in case of hospital admissions. But as Yasmin was finally out of hospital following an eleven day stretch, I looked forward to a relatively relaxing week with a few day trips out with nana.
The day after Andrew departed, Yasmin woke up at 8am still tired and wanting to go back to bed. This was not like her. She usually demanded to go downstairs the second that she woke up. Two hours later she was violently throwing up and had a temperature of 39.5C.
This meant an immediate dash to our local hospital. Thank goodness my mother was there to stay with Isaac.
I called Andrew to let him know what had happened and then frantically packed a bag with a number of random food items: a ready meal lasagne for me, ReadyBrek and apple juice for Yasmin. I made a mental note to have a bag packed on stand by at all times in future. It is hard to remember what you need in hospital when you are panicking, despite being regular visitors.
I was worried about Yasmin throwing up in the car and being unable to stop and help her but, fortunately, she slept the short journey in.  While driving, I couldn't prevent dark thoughts entering my mind, such as, what caused the 5 to 10% ALL sufferers who don’t make it, to die? It was a question we had never dared to ask.
The nurses could see immediately that Yasmin was not at all well. She was a completely different child to the one who had danced out of there at the beginning of the week. She could not lift her head and was completely listless. It was very worrying.
Her temperature remained around 39.5 for the next 24 hours. As I was at the hospital on my own and Yasmin was too sick for me to leave her, even to go to the bathroom, I texted a number of good friends to see if anyone was free to come in to bring me food and to help out a bit. It was the first time that Yasmin had been admitted overnight with Andrew not around to share the care. This made it ten times more stressful for me.
With Yasmin's temperature still sky high, I asked my friend Greer, who came along in the evening, whether she knew at what body temperature organs begin to fail. Googling, she found that a temperature above 40C can be life-threatening.
Yasmin slept for the whole day and night and by the next day, the antibiotics had kicked in. As soon as she woke up, she demanded toast with jam and to go to the play-room. She was back with us. One of our favourite nurses later pointed out that it was probably just a usual childhood illness, and nothing to worry about, but everything is magnified by the knowledge Yasmin has cancer.
Yasmin remained in the playroom all day. Another friend gave my mum and Isaac a lift to the hospital along with some more food supplies. My mum was exhausted from being up in the night with Isaac but stayed for the day to help me out and so that I could also see my lovely baby.
By the next day, Yasmin had finally decided she had had enough of hospitals. This was not surprising considering we had spent the best part of three weeks inside children's wards. 
But as she had recovered so well, we were, thankfully, discharged home with a course of oral antibiotics.
As the doctors had not yet determined what had caused the infection, one of the nurses had to stick a pipe up Yasmin’s nose, just as we were leaving, in order to get some mucus out to be tested. It was a painful and scary procedure and when Yasmin realised what was about to happen, she tried to run away. It was as though she was running from a torturer. We left the hospital with Yasmin in tears. It was pouring down outside and I had to make a mad dash to the car pushing Yasmin in her buggy in the rain. 
Suddenly, I could hear a joyful voice singing Barney’s “If all the Raindrops" I couldn’t believe that, after what had just happened, Yasmin remained resolutely cheerful.
As soon as we arrived home, I ran to give my chubby boy a cuddle and I was delighted to see him roll all the way from his front to his back for the first time. I missed him so much when I was at the hospital.
Later that evening, I had to pick up Yasmin’s antibiotics from the hospital. Listening to the radio as I drove back, I felt as though I had been smashed into 1000 tiny pieces but was being held tightly together with super glue.

Monday, 17 December 2012

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.. OR THE DOCTORS


High Court judges are expected to rule this week whether a seven-year-old cancer patient should have radiotherapy against his mother's wishes.
Sally Roberts sparked a nationwide manhunt when she went on the run with her son, Neon, because she did not wish him to have the treatment, which she describes as "medieval" due to its potentially devastating side effects, including a lowered IQ and infertility.
But Neon's doctors say that if the boy doesn't have radiotherapy and chemotherapy following surgery for a brain tumour, he will die.
The decision was delayed last weekend and it was later revealed that the tumour had returned, but Mrs Roberts is reportedly still "50/50" as to whether she will consent to the full treatment and is seeking a second opinion.
It is an impossible situation. Does she agree to a difficult course of treatment with potentially horrendous and life-changing side effects? And if she denies her beloved son treatment, is she risking his life?
I, like Sally, am living what the judge described as "every parent's nightmare" as the mother of a child with cancer. But for my husband, Andrew, and I, there really wasn't any choice other than to put our trust in our medical team.

Read the rest of this comment piece here on the Independent on Sunday's website.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

TRANSFER TO LOCAL


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Yasmin enjoying the park on an afternoon
out from hospital
We could never have imagined that a small spot on the bottom could have caused so much trouble.
Instead of being discharged after a week, Yasmin was transferred to our local hospital. This was mainly to free up a bed space for a child in more serious need as Yasmin remained generally well but it would also mean that we would be able to go home in between antibiotic infusions.
Because Yasmin’s neutrophils remained low, her body was unable to fight any infection and the doctors were concerned by the fact her immune system was taking time to recover after being destroyed by the chemotherapy. As well as antibiotic infusions, she was also prescribed a daily infusion of G-CSF in order to stimulate the production of neutrophils. This meant that she had to sit still hooked up to a machine for half an hour several times a day – not an easy feat for a toddler who, after months of not being able to walk, was now on the move once more.
We took a taxi from GOSH to our local hospital with endless bags of stuff that we had accumulated during the week’s stay. As our room was not yet ready, we managed to go home straight away for an hour, giving me just time enough to bath and feed Isaac before we had to go back in. I had taken over from Andrew doing the overnights as the hospital beds were playing havoc with his back, already shot from carrying camera equipment around all day, so I would be staying the night.
We still hadn’t decided whether being woken throughout the night by Isaac was a worse deal than being kept awake by the bustle of the hospital and Yasmin's treatment.
I thought Yasmin would be fed up: after finally getting to go home after all this time she was immediately taken back in, but she was fine. She was happy to see the nurses she had got to know well in the summer and she sat down at the nurses’ station, taking charge, playing with the name stamps and making everybody laugh.
Yasmin had to have antibiotics via an infusion at 6am, 12pm, 6pm and midnight but we didn’t need to be there in between. As Yasmin had got into the habit of sleeping in late at GOSH we opted to stay overnight and go home for the afternoon. We even managed to get out to the park one bright wintery day.
After three long nights’, we were allowed to come home but as the boil, although gradually disappearing, was still there, she had to continue on a course of oral antibiotics.
Two days after discharge we were back at GOSH for routine chemotherapy. 
Disney volunteers kindly came in to distribute gifts to all of the patients and Yasmin received a beautiful Daisy Duck. She was overtired that day due to the recent hospital admission and, instead, of being pleased by the gift, she started chasing the volunteers down the corridor with her pants (loosened from the sudden weight gain, then weight loss) falling around her ankles, demanding “more toys”, before throwing herself on the floor in a rage. It is worth pointing out she was delighted by Daisy as soon as we got home and proudly showed her off to daddy.
As Yasmin’s neutrophils persisted in being low, our consultant decided to send her bloods off for testing to see if there had been some kind of a reaction to the oral chemotherapy. The consultant tried to discuss this with me in more detail but as Yasmin decided to have a major tantrum at the same time it was not possible.
It was only when we got home and I talked this through with Andrew that I wondered whether this could be a serious issue and whether it would impact on her treatment. We weren’t sure whether if was something to be worried about or not.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

BACK IN THE LAND OF THE SERIOUSLY ILL CHILD

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Yasmin Painting in the playroom by Karen Attwood
Andrew arrived at the hospital for the night shift straight from work and didn’t go home again for eight days. What began as Yasmin’s routine daycare appointment, on November 9, turned into a weekend stay which extended into 11 days. The abscess on Yasmin’s bottom proved very stubborn.
The whole of the first weekend, Andrew stayed with Yasmin and I remained at home so that I could have a break from the stress of being at hospital and spend a precious day with Isaac.
Throughout the following week, I went into Great Ormond Street around 8am or 9am so that Andrew could go to work. He returned to the hospital in the evening and didn’t go home at all.
I would get home late in the evening so that I could feed Isaac through the night. Usually Isaac stayed with Grandma Sandra but some days we all went in so that the family could be briefly united.
I felt torn in two. It was awful leaving my beautiful smiling baby in the morning just as he woke up and it was equally terrible to have to sneak off away from Yasmin at night before she started crying for me to stay. I felt like both babies needed me and I couldn’t be there for them at the same time. Andrew was either at work or dedicating his time to getting Yasmin through the hospital stay.
Although the arrangements were difficult for Andrew and I, Yasmin, to our surprise, thoroughly enjoyed herself.
During her first stay at GOSH, she had been in terrible pain and had to have constant painful medical procedures through cannulas in her veins. Naturally, she hated it and wanted desperately to go home. This time, she had only been admitted because of the abscess, and in herself she was actually very well. She was also now able to walk. This meant she spent the entire time in the playroom with the other children and the play specialists who organised fun activities every day.
She made friends with a lovely girl, several years older than Yasmin, and the two became inseparable and would play together until 10pm every night in the playroom. It was impossible to get Yasmin into bed with so much going on.
 As she was relatively well, this also meant we were able to take her out around Bloomsbury in the afternoons in between her antibiotic infusions. We went to cafes, to a nearby park and children’s centre or shopping.
Back on the ward, Yasmin enjoyed a music therapy class and even massage in a special room with calming music and light playing on the walls. It was like a holiday camp for sick children.
But for Andrew and I, after a month of caring for Yasmin mostly at home and getting some semblance of normality back in our lives, it felt strange to be thrust once more into the world of the very ill child.
As we were spending so much time in the playroom it meant that we got to know the other families on the ward. I recognised on the faces of the other parents the same semi-hysterical cheerfulness that we saw in ourselves. Everyone runs on adrenaline, in coping mode, and will do anything possible to make things better for their children. It is as though time stands still on a cancer ward: all that matters is trying to get your child well.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

BOIL ON THE BUM


Yasmin is the last child on Safari Ward

We attended a photography awards black tie dinner on November 8, as Andrew had been nominated in the Picture Essay of the Year category. It is an award that he won in 2006, and that evening had been a boozy affair with copious amounts of champagne consumed. Although this year’s event was enjoyable, (not least because it was the first night out of the home and not in a hospital together in a long time) we were conscious of the fact that Yasmin had an 8am appointment for a lumber puncture at GOSH – ouch! – so a hangover was out of the question and we both stuck to a couple of drinks.
The next day’s journey in on a tube packed with rush-hour commuters was particularly difficult. Yasmin and I were both tired and she was grumpy and moaned all the way. But looks of annoyance turned to sympathy from the commuters when Yasmin took of her hat to reveal her balding head.
Once on Safari ward, Yasmin cheered up immediately when she saw her new favourite person, the play specialist on the ward. I had now learnt that the way to make her look forward to, instead of dread, the hospital visit, was to say we were off to visit the play specialist.
Yasmin wouldn't let her new friend out of her sight and shouted her name repeatedly down the corridor whenever she went off to do something else. The play specialist changed DVDs several times on command and found a number of craft activities to keep Yasmin entertained, from creating sticker pictures to making glittery fairy wings, in the hours before she had to go under for her general anaesthetic.
As time dragged on, Yasmin started to get hungry and fed up and began to throw tantrums and we had the usual shaking with fear when I took her into the operating theatre with everyone dressed in their blue uniforms. I started to feel disheartened. Every time I return to Safari, I am reminded of the horror of getting the diagnosis and our first days there.
But Yasmin is a trouper and recovered almost immediately on waking up and being fed and she spent another couple of happy hours harassing the play specialist instead of me. The bedside television was finally forgotten this appointment, as she found far more interesting things going on in the playroom with a couple of lively children.
We packed up, had Yasmin's port deaccessed and got ready to leave. On the way out, I checked with our nurse whether a spot on Yasmin's bottom which had become hard in the past couple of days had been checked while she was under. I wasn't sure whether it was something to get very worried about but I knew it wasn't normal. An oversight meant that the doctors had not yet examined the spot so we had to wait until somebody could come to check it and suddenly, we were no longer going home. An urgent appointment was made for an ultrasound on Yasmin’s bottom to see if the spot was becoming an abscess. As Yasmin’s neutrophils and therefore immunity was so suppressed, her body could not fight any infection so this could become a serious problem, I was told.
Getting a wiggly, uncooperative toddler to have an ultrasound on her bottom took the skills of a nurse, the specialist, her mother and a television on the ceiling but it showed that indeed, the boil was becoming an abscess and we would have to be admitted into hospital. I made a few frantic phone calls to explain the situation to Andrew and to make sure that Grandma Sandra - or Grandma Andra as Yasmin called her - who was looking after Isaac, could stay the night and possibly longer as we didn't know how long we would be staying. We also had nothing we needed for an overnight stay so Andrew had to do an emergency shop on his way from work.
Safari ward phoned up to request a bed on Lion – the old ward where Yasmin had started her treatment. But as a bed wasn't available until 6.30pm we had to hang out on Safari. This meant we were the last people on the ward even after most of the medical staff had gone home.
Given how much Yasmin had hated her first 10 days at GOSH, I was fearful that she would get upset and started to worry about how I would keep her entertained and her mood up. But she remained in high spirits and didn’t seem at all bothered that we would have to stay.
She enjoyed having the undivided attention of the remaining nurses and was bossing everyone about and making them laugh. They all commented what a character she was and how she was more like a 15 year old than a two year old. 
When the time came to go to the ward Yasmin decided she wanted a ride in a rainbow coloured wheelchair she had noticed and one lovely nurse acquiesced and raced Yasmin at full speed through the corridors of GOSH all the way to Lion ward, turning what could have been a scary ordeal into a fun adventure. This meant that she was delighted to arrive on Lion and her mood remained high as I took her around the ward in a toddler car until daddy arrived for the night shift.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

NEUTROPENIA


After a five-week induction and three-week consolidation, the next stage of Yasmin’s treatment was interim maintenance. This was supposed to consist of two months of oral chemotherapy at home with fortnightly scheduled hospital appointments for vincristine chemotherapy through the central line and two lumber punctures.
But as with consolidation, it did not quite go to plan.  During her first interim maintenance appointment at Great Ormond Street on October 22, Yasmin’s blood tests revealed that she was neutropenic. This is a word that most people do not need to be familiar with, but for parents of a cancer patient it is important that they know whether their child is neutropenic at all times.
A person is neutropenic when their neutrophil (a type of white blood cell) count is below 0.75. This happens because chemotherapy drugs reduce the production of white blood cells by the bone marrow. It means that the immune system is lowered and the risk of infection is therefore greater. It is not anything in itself to worry about but if a child develops a temperature while neutropenic it means an immediate hospital admission. Therefore, at times of neutropenia, the less contact Yasmin has with potential infections the better.
With Yasmin’s neutrophils at 0.5, the doctors decided to delay the start of interim maintenance until they recovered.
Yasmin skipping around Epping Forest in May 2012,
 one month before becoming ill
It had not been a wasted journey into GOSH, however, as Yasmin was at her most cheerful yet. She spent her time singing and dancing in the playroom and for the first time did not want to go home. The nurses, who we had by now become very familiar with, all commented on how chatty she was and how lovely it was to see her personality at last. It certainly was wonderful to have the old cheeky Yasmin back.
 One week later and Yasmin’s neutrophils had gone down to 0.1. A healthy person should have neutrophils between 1.5 and 6. Although her character retained its spark, with her pale face, dark circles under her eyes, uncertain shuffle, and straggly bits of hair, she looked like a stereotypical cancer child. Andrew had endless images of Yasmin on his computer and he admitted to me how hard it was to look at old photographs when she had been so healthy and well, taken at a time when we could never have imagined this would happen.
With her neutrophils still unrecovered by Oct 30, Yasmin’s consultant did not wish to delay interim maintenance any longer and decided to go ahead and start but we were instructed to hold off on giving her the daily dose of oral chemotherapy until her neutrophils were back on track.
We asked a nurse whether we had anything to worry about by the prolonged neutropenia, but we were assured that it is quite normal and her neutrophils should just start to recover by themselves at some point.
Along with the vincristine, Yasmin started a five-day course of steroids. This time there was no slow build up to bad behaviour. The effect was almost immediate, as if a remnant of the first steroids she had taken remained. Several hours after taking her first dose, she woke up in a steroid rage. Looking at each other, Andrew and I said: “Here we go again.” As Yasmin showed no signs of calming down by 11pm, Andrew took her downstairs to watch television until she fell asleep.
Yasmin’s intense rages continued over the next couple of days, with a lot of her jealousy aimed at her brother accompanied by screams of "I don’t want Isaac" whenever he needed a bit of attention. Fortunately, Isaac tends to smile at almost anything and didn’t seem at all troubled at the antipathy directed towards him.
We had become friendly with another family who live close by whose daughter by coincidental bad luck also has leukaemia. Two years older than Yasmin, she was more aware of her illness. When she next came to visit, she said to me that she had lost some of her hair but not as much as Yasmin. I noticed a flicker of recognition cross Yasmin’s face.
It was only days later when skyping nana and granddad that Yasmin mentioned it again. “I have leukaemia and I have no hair,” she said in a matter of fact way. She did not seem at all upset. I tried to broach the subject later when we were cuddling at bedtime but feelings are such a difficult topic for a two-year-old.
I simply said: “How is it with no hair?” but she just smiled and gave me her book to read. She had been choosing Jack’s Diary about the little boy who has leukaemia more frequently and she would enjoy it when we got to the end and he was all better. I am conscious that she is becoming more aware of the fact that she is seriously ill and what this means.