Our son Cameron, 17, felt out of sorts for a week or so, complaining of tiredness and feeling unwell. We thought it was a virus or flu, not anything serious. On the Saturday, we noticed bruises on his arms he couldn’t explain. By the evening he was so unwell we rang 111 and took him to our out-of-hours facility. Cam was told to rest and that we needed to request urgent blood tests from our GP on the Monday. We didn’t make it that far.
In the morning, Cam’s legs were aching and he had more bruises. I offered to run him a bath and as I helped him to the bathroom – Cam lost consciousness. A 999 call and half-an-hour later we were in A&E. Blood tests were taken and he was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia on March 8, 2015.
We’ll never forget the doctor’s face, the words or look on Cam’s face. Our world came crashing down – we didn’t see it coming. Cam received platelets and an hour or so after diagnosis, we were rushed, on blue lights, to Bristol Children’s Hospital.
The care was amazing. Treatment started immediately and (we learned afterwards) the first few days were crucial. Cam had rarely been ill and hated taking tablets, but was thrown into a bewildering world of medical procedures, medication, and countless doctors and nurses looking after him. We quickly realised what an amazing young man he is – approaching all treatment with positivity and good grace, no matter what was being done.
After two weeks, Cam was moved to the TYA Unit, designed for teenagers and young adults with cancer, funded by Teenage Cancer Trust. He stayed there for four weeks, before beginning consolidation protocol, daily arsenic trioxide infusions for four weeks, then a four-week break. During this nine-month period, the TYA team, committed to patients’ physical and emotional wellbeing, looked after us. We laughed, cried, baked and ate with them, and they even threw Cam an 18th birthday party as he was on treatment for his big day.