It is exactly a year ago today that Andrew and I were told that our beloved daughter had cancer. Now, here is Yasmin at the seaside with her daddy. We have come so far in the past twelve months, yet we still have a long way to go.
Cuddling Yasmin as she settled down to sleep the other night, she whispered to me softly: “They’re not doing my bloods.”
This was the phrase Yasmin repeated over and over in the early days of her illness when she was constantly having her blood taken through cannulas in her veins. This was unimaginably painful and it is no wonder that two-year-old Yasmin started shouting this out, in panic, in her sleep.
Yasmin still has to have weekly blood tests, and will have to do so until October 2014, but the nurse now does this with a finger prick and a squeeze. When Yasmin first started having it done this way, she didn’t make much fuss as she was so relieved that the nurse was not accessing the port in her chest with a needle – which is how she had it done for the first six months. (It is only by writing that down that I realised today’s date and that has now been 12 whole months of chemotherapy!)
But now Yasmin hates having her bloods done once more.
Early on in Yasmin’s treatment I read to her books about leukaemia designed for children with ‘naughty blood cells’ with funny faces. She knew she was very ill, as she felt it in her joints, but she enjoyed the books. Nowadays, she feels well most of the time – apart from our scheduled hospital appointments and emergency dashes, she is like most children.
So how do you explain to a three-year-old why she has to have her finger painfully cut every single week and why she must continue to have chemotherapy?
Andrew and I are thankful that Yasmin is being treated now and she will have finished chemo just as she starts school – all of this will be just a memory for her.
But it does makes it difficult to explain what is happening to her which you could do with an older child. But of course, once you can understand what is going on, you also have the fear of the possible horrific outcomes.
There is no good age for a child to have cancer – it is a terrible horrendous disease that no child should suffer. Thankfully, for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia there is an extremely high probability of a complete cure – other families are not so lucky which is why we must continue to pour money into research.
Since Yasmin’s last hospital admission, her neutrophils have remained very low so we are keeping her off nursery and mostly at home until she gets stronger.
But, I actually got away up north to visit my parents last weekend while Andrew entertained the kids with a trip to the seaside. So although Yasmin's immune system is low and she has not long been discharged from a scary hospital visit - see what a picture of health she looks. What a difference from last year!