Leukaemia | Twelve months on | Back to work | child receiving chemotherapy

Sorry for the harsh titles of these blogs sometimes! I’m trying to use keywords so that other families with children with cancer can find us on Google if they’re looking for positive stories.

Latest hospital visit

We’re due an update as it’s been a while hasn’t it.  It’s been quiet as I’ve been a busy little bee and George’s is on top form considering, so we’ve not been in hospital for sickness, just routine appointments – go George!

We went into Oncology at Alder Hey earlier this week after school for George to have bloods taken which were then discussed at his appointment on Wednesday.  Barry (the port) was given a flush to prevent him clotting up, which was a good reflection of how well George has been – it’s usually accessed more regularly because he falls ill before it ever needs flushing.

The doctor mentioned this week that George’s neutrophils are quite high at the moment.  The average Joe’s neutrophils sit between 4 and 11 but George’s need to be around 1 so that the doctors know his bone marrow is suppressed.  His neuts are 3.8 right now so it’s a sign his bone marrow has started fighting something off (any virus or infection), or he needs his chemo dosage increasing.  We’ve got another two weeks to see what the next move is.

The vegetarian

Sugar the puppy has had her fur trimmed
No pictures of the kids, just the dog’s hair cut

What else is new… Sugar has had a hair cut…. oh and Harriet’s a vegetarian!  that news has come as no surprise to a few of my friends.  One day she just refused to eat “an actual chicken’s leg!?” as she put it.  She’s never had an issue with meat until now… now she’s guilt tripping us all over eating defenceless animals.  In her words “it’s like eating Sugar” – our pet dog.  I get her point.  To be fair to her, I admire the fact she’s made the choice herself, no one she knows is a veggie, she’s doing it purely because of how she feels.  She knows her own mind this one.

Giving up work whilst George received treatment

As you all know, I stopped teaching my antenatal classes a few weeks after George’s diagnosis.  This decision didn’t come easy, but it was the only way forward.  The classes could be quite emotionally demanding and I got to the point where I felt my ladies weren’t getting the best of me anymore.  Obviously they all thought I was completely mad still teaching whilst George had just been diagnosed with leukaemia…. maybe I was!   I just thought it might help to keep in a positive place.

Anyway, no regrets on that front, I was released from a restrictive contract and free from the monthly payments to the franchise.  I could relax and look after my children when they needed me the most.  It was during those periods when George was an inpatient, and we were juggling Oliver and Harriet too, I couldn’t imagine being in a place where I could consider working again – and I’d previously only worked 12 hours a week tops!.

Ready to get back to work whilst treatment continues

Twelve months or so later and I know that I’m ready to get back in the game….not ‘on’ the game… those days are behind me 😉  There’s approximately 2 and a half years of daily chemotherapy and theatre for spinal chemo every few months but now we have our routines in place, I feel like there’s a little opening for me to get some of myself back.  School are now well versed on what they’re looking out for, we know which friends we can rely on if we’re rushing to hospital and we understand the drill once we’re there.

Lisa Rooza stood at Hypnobirthing training
Proper Geek at the Hypnobirthing training

We all know I love a good chat, I also enjoy helping other people and given my 4 years experience working with pregnant ladies, things are pointing in the same direction.  I have had a chat with my friends in the local maternity services and the birthy world and found out that, you know what?  I can do something birthy myself!  I’m a qualified complementary therapist, and have now trained in a method of delivering antenatal workshops called Hypnobirthing.  I have now set up my own birth programme and called it Birth Geek.

Birth Geek

I have lots of ideas for Birth Geek, but for now am not going to bite off more than I can chew.  I’m running antenatal workshops on a Sunday in Warrington, Lymm and Knutsford and offering mobile pregnancy massage a few days a week while the children are in school.  I’ve loved getting my teeth into designing my own website… and final branding is almost there, do take a look.

Not lost the plot yet….

We rise by lifting others quote
that we do….

And so a new chapter is beginning, one I never envisaged even 6 months ago – working whilst my child is receiving treatment for cancer!? but look, anything’s possible.  I’m just going to keep mindful of keeping a good balance.  Given I’ve not been sectioned so far, something is obviously working for us!  Celebrating every small achievement, every milestone, taking nothing for granted and living life to the full is not about to change.

Lis x

Strongest treatment out of the way and a new chapter beginning

Fighting fit
Fighting fit

This week was George’s final week of “Delayed Intensification” <fist pumps the air>  I’m breathing a sigh of relief that his treatment should never be as strong as it has been over the past couple of months.  Barry the port will never receive chemotherapy again… I’m sure of it.

Maintenance

We do need to keep Barry (the port) though as George will still be receiving oral chemotherapy for the next three years.  Access is still required for giving him blood transfusions if he needs them, taking blood for testing and giving him fluids/medication if he’s ill or experiencing bad side effects.  We will be going to Alder Hey every fortnight for a blood test followed by clinic the next day (also at Alder Hey!) for an appointment with a doctor to adjust the chemotherapy dose based on his blood test results.

George will still be going to theatre under general anaesthetic for spinal chemo and bone marrow aspirations every 12 weeks for the next three years too… so while this phase seems like nothing compared to the last 6 months, it’s a long slog.  This phase of treatment is to prevent relapse.

Who the hell is Barry?

Just a reminder of who Barry is for those who only joined us more recently.  The lovely nurses at Alder Hey encourage the children to name their line that’s inserted into their chest.  George being George couldn’t choose something cute and friendly sounding… without thinking he just said “he’s called Barry”.  He’d named a Shopkins toy he had “Barry” the day before whilst playing something silly with our friend Nic, he got a lot of laughs so that’s it now.  The nurses say they’re giving Barry a drink or a wash or some medicine.

Fundraising Heroes

Haynesy still in one piece!
Haynesy still in one piece!

This week Damo received a cheque for funds raised by his good friend Haynesy back in Norwich.  Haynesy successfully completed a biathlon 21st May, running 15 miles around Norwich followed by a 50 mile cycle from Trowse to Beccles in Norfolk and back.  We just want to say thank you for thinking of us and well done for completing it in great time! 5 hours 43 mins!

We know you and all of Damien’s friends down there have felt pretty helpless at times so we just wanted to assure you that you have made a difference – starting with Legoland this week!  George (and Damo’s) favourite pastime in a theme park!

We’ve also had many friends taking part in Pretty Muddy Cancer Research events over the past few weeks too, thank you to all of you who ran for George.  I know there have been at least 5 of you with Georgie Roo on your tops, I’m glad I wasn’t there as I’d have been an emotional wreck!  Just want you to know we appreciate it girls, we’re very proud x

Proud of Lady Harriet and friends

Harriet
Harriet

Speaking of being proud, myself and some of the other mums from school are in the process of organising a sponsored hair cut that our daughters have chosen to be a part of.  Harriet and her friends are going to be having at least 7 inches of their hair chopped off in order to send on to The Little Princess Trust.  Their hair will be made into real hair wigs for children who have lost their hair as a side effect of their cancer treatment, like George.

Any funds raised will also go to The Little Princess Trust to help pay to make the wigs.

George being the age he is, and being boy, has not had to suffer the same emotional trauma that young girls go through.  Bearing in mind this on top of everything else! the painful, uncomfortable treatment, the diagnosis and uncertainty – hair loss may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but for young girl (and boys really) it’s like their identity is taken away as well.

Given the amount of brave young ladies we’ve met since George started his treatment, we felt it would be the least we could do.  I think it will also help Harriet feel like she’s a part of something positive too 🙂 she’s so pleased that quite a few of her friends from school are joining her.

What’s next?

This week we have a blood test and a consultant appointment at Alder Hey to tell us what happens from here on in.  Maintenance officially begins on 1st July and we hope to spend the day celebrating with the children.

Graduating from preschool
Graduating from preschool

The little graduate

Tissues at the ready, I cried when Michelle, the photographer that works with Playdays, handed me this photograph.  I cried because of how beautiful it is, how she’d been so kind to have it put on a canvas.  It will always remind me of the fight my little boy was battling when it was taken.  His hair had started to fall out at this point and Michelle came along even took a few special photos of George with his friends too.

George is “graduating” from Playdays next month for another big phase of his life as he transitions into school.  We’ve got his graduation to look forward to, taster days at school and uniform to try on!  I can’t believe how quickly it has come around or that I’ll have THREE school age children by September.

I’m sad that this huge chunk of time has passed with so many hospital trips, treatment and worry when he should have developing like all the other little ones to prepare him for “big school”.

However, it feels right for him to be moving on with all the children he’s established friendships with, for his sanity and mine!  I know I have nothing to fear with his big brother and sister being around, he’s also got 15 friends from Playdays moving up with him who have known him right through all of his.  They accept him for who he is and treat him like everyone else 🙂 We’ll have the parents moving up with us too (thank God!), who have been there to give me a reassuring smile or hug at the Playdays door…plus the parents of children in the rest of the school who I’m lucky enough to call good friends.  We’ll just be sad to not be in the care of the wonderful staff who go that extra mile.

George is probably going to have hundreds of new big brothers and sisters looking out for him come September, we love the school and the teacher he has.  It’s a whole new chapter that he’ll  take in his stride just as well… and if not, we’ll adapt and wing it as we go along.

Lis x

 

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