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

The Familymoon in all its glory

First day at St Ives Bay
First day at St Ives Bay

The few weeks following becoming Mr and Mrs Rooza have become one of our all time favourite memories.  We’d organised two weeks “Familymoon” in Cornwall with George’s consultant haematologist’s permission.  This wasn’t something i’d ever envisaged being able to do during his intense treatment.

We usually camp but decided we’d make life a little easier not having pitch a tent etc by staying in a caravan.  We’d stayed at St Ives Bay Holiday Park last year with all our friends so knew it had everything we wanted plus this time, a sea view to wake up to in the morning.

View from our caravan
View from our caravan

We packed all of George’s chemotherapy and pain relief, high factor sun cream (you can have this prescribed by the Oncology department for anyone who may find that useful), we knew where the nearest paediatric unit was and then where the nearest Oncology unit was too.

Choosing to have “Barry”, the port under the skin, was proving it’s worth as we didn’t have to worry about keeping a line clean, away from sand, sea etc.  George was able to enjoy the beach as much as his brother and sister, we’re still finding sand in his ears now to prove it.  Another thing that was also really helpful was our pop up beach shelter, twenty quid of Amazon.  Sometimes all the running around would be just too much, so it was great for George to be able to crash out of the sun (or typically for the UK, was perfect to get under when it rained!).

The dune of doom
The dune of doom

Hayle Beach was as beautiful as we remembered, the kids enjoyed boarding down the dunes, building sandcastles and paddling in the shallows.  Picnics on the beach each day made saved us a fortune and a couple of beers whilst we were down there made the honeymoon with 3 kids a little more relaxing!

Oliver is less of a paddling in the shallows man, and more of a bodyboarding in the waves kind of guy.  Damien and Oliver boarded most days whilst I watched excitedly…. or maybe I sunbathed….

Oliver bodyboarding
Oliver bodyboarding

Obviously it poured down on a couple of days, we had to be reminded that this was not the Mediterranean cruise we booked.  Being surrounded by sunburnt Northerners wasn’t enough no, some classic Warrington rain was sent our way as a cursory reminder to appreciate the sunny days.

 

Harriet and "Catherine"
Harriet and “Catherine”

What we saved on eating sandy butties on the beach each day, we basically paid the arcades’ overheads for them to remain open until next season.  Harriet spent about fifteen quid “winning” her Catherine and Claire teddies which I suspect had been in the site’s gift shop since the names Catherine and Claire were trendy for young children.  Oliver spent most of his time being a lurker, waiting for some poor kid is robbed of their last 2p at the 2p machine… only to jump straight on and make a killing – and what shall we do with 48p’s worth of 2p’s? let’s put them all back in again!  Georgie was happy squirting water at duckies or just blatantly buying sweets with his spends and gorging on them.

 

Paradise Park
Paradise Park

On another grim weather day we donned our cagoules and hit the local bird of prey sanctuary, Paradise Park, and was pleasantly surprised.  It helps that Harriet absolutely loves birds.  We avoided taking George into the aviary where Oliver and Harriet fed little parakeet thingies, not only because it’s like a scene from “The Birds” and he’d probably freak out but just in case there was anything that would make him ill.  The kids met penguins, owls and there were even flamingos walking about – beats the seagulls as big as dogs that we were used to back at the campsite!

Kite flying
Kite flying

The children flew kites and the big boys enjoyed the surf on the very windy days.  Harriet would run like a maniac in the wind and George and I would cuddle up and appreciate our windbreak and beach tent.

We changed it up with some rock pooling at Godrevy on the first week, it wasn’t as successful as last year but just as much of an adventure.

Rockpooling
Rockpooling

Oliver and Harriet liked running around the rocks and coves while the tide was out and splashing in the clear pools while George would sit with his little net in a rockpool “fishing” like a gnome.  Some standard wave jumping as the tide came back in violently before we did the five minute drive back to our site for some tea.

One beautiful evening we walked up to the top of the dunes to watch the sunset with a picnic blanket and a bottle of champagne and glasses.  The sky was perfect, it was lovely and still and the ocean was calm.  We opened the bottle, let out a little cheer, sipped the froth from the chilled bubbly then promptly had to help Harriet squat in bushes while she went for a p*ss.  The kids ran around kicking sand at us, George screamed when he didn’t get his own way and Oliver went missing.  You can imagine…. but of course we smiled for the camera anyway and pretended it was hours of romantic bliss rather than the 7 minutes approx.

 

It wasn’t quite a Royal Carribean Cruise but we did manage to book ourselves on a Mermaid Pleasure Trip in Penzance.  The skipper was lovely, he let the children drive the boat, they pulled lobster pots, we saw seals at Seal Cove and got to see St Michaels Mount from the water.  What made the day extra special though was the small pod of dolphins that came swimming along side us… The guys on board put a device under the water with a speaker which allowed to listen to the sounds of the dolphins communicating, it was so special and absolutely made our day.

The skipper chatted to George and found out his love of the emergency services.  He kindly arranged for us to visit RNLI Penlee Lifeboat station in Newlyn a few days later for us to go aboard their Ivan Ellen lifeboat.  Coxwain Patch Harvey, was lovely, taking time to chat to the children about the boat, how it rights itself in 3 seconds if it ever overturns!? showing us the engine room and letting the children sit up at the bridge… it was humbling to learn how many of the local fishermen and people in the community run the lifeboat station voluntarily!? and are on call night and day in shifts… what amazing guys taking time out to help people, risking their own lives, so selfless.

We crabbed in Penzance too but spent most of our time seagull dodging and came away stinking of the bait.  Kids enjoyed catching seaweed though!

The second week of our holiday got even better when our good friends arrived with their children!  not only was it fresh faces for the kids to play with but there’s only so much of my crap Damo can listen to.  The kids were so happy to see each other and it was nice to have a wine buddy for after we’d hit the waves 🙂

There was more dune surfing, fits of laughter, beautiful sunsets, shooting stars and a day trip to Falmouth where we got to see the Red Arrows display! George spent most of it with his hands over his ears as usual.

The holiday was perfect and just what we needed, with the comfort of still being in the UK for George’s sake but still magical and memorable.

This evening George is in hospital with Daddy being checked as he’s spiked a temp for a second time since we’ve been back.  We’ve been in for a consultant appointment twice too to have his chemotherapy altered as his white blood count isn’t recovering quite as fast as we’d like.  The doctors aren’t concerned and feel he has a lingering virus (he’s had a bad cough for 3 weeks now) so have reduced his chemo to allow his own body to work it’s magic.

Georges wisps of hair
Georges wisps of hair

George’s next consultant appointment is on his first week at big boys school! I can’t believe we’re at this point already, it was something I couldn’t even compute not so long ago. His first day is going to be particularly poignant in this house, I’m sad he’s not going to be my little buddy at home any more, I’m worried for him like all the other parent’s will be for their babies… but he shouldn’t be having to undergo treatment for cancer, it’s not fair.

We’re hoping the next few years of maintenance will be kind to George and that we can continue to have more happy times as a family than difficult ones.  We’re made up we got out 2 weeks familymoon and for now we’re enjoying the last days of the holidays at home together around hospital trips and preparing for all three children going to school… looks like George might even have some wisps of hair for his first day too!

xx