Two years ago today we met Dr H.. for the first time. Whilst he’s a very nice bloke indeed, I really wish we hadn’t. That day will be etched in our life story forever. It changed the essence of our hopes and the direction of our dreams.
Thursday 28th January 2016
It’s about 5pm, a hospital room in the Children’s Assessment Unit of Poole Hospital. Dr H. walks in and introduces himself. We had no idea at the time how important this person would become in our lives. Without any delay, he said something along the lines of, “it would appear that Felix has leukaemia.” He briefly explained how they had to come to this conclusion, what it meant and the treatment plan. Blood was mentioned, enlarged liver and bruises – a conversation using a language we had never heard of before. We were then given space and time just the three of us, Dylan, Felix and I time to process this devastating news. I think we are still processing it now.
From this moment on we were catapulted into the world of Children’s Oncology. We were led to Dr H’s consulting room where we were given books and leaflets about Leukaemia: a book for kids about leukaemia, one for grandparents, information for school even one on leukaemia and pets. We were then shown what would soon feel like our second home, Dr H’s consultancy room. Felix was then, with the utmost sensitivity, invited to have a look at some information about Piam Brown Ward. He was encouraged to look at images of children bloated through steroids and bald from chemotherapy – a simple gesture to help prepare him for what was about to come.
Whilst Dr H and Felix started to get to know each other, the start of a relationship which would prove invaluable during those really tough times, Dyl and I were offered the privacy of his consultancy room to make the most difficult phone calls of our lives. The phone call that would shatter the lives of those we loved the most. Through tears, we tried to explain the diagnosis, the plan and what would happen over the next few weeks. We placed the phone down, tried to compose ourselves and went back out and embraced our beautiful son.
Felix was admitted to the ward and we started to get used to an environment that would soon become so familiar to us. Dylan left to collect our other children with the unfathomable task of trying to explain to our then 7 and 11-year-old why he was so late. At this point we knew one thing, we had to be together. So Dylan returned with Tals and Rufus so that we could all seek some sort of comfort from each other. We laughed and we cried. We became #TeamBrown.
That night, as Felix slept, I laid wide awake on the small and cramped parent’s bed and cried and cried and cried. I had no idea how I was going to get through the night, let alone the next day or the 3 years and 3 months of treatment.
Two years on and we are still laughing and crying but now with hope and aspiration. There have been some really tough times, times when I wondered if we had the emotional and physical capacity to cope with all that Felix faced. Throughout all of it, Dr H has been a constant for us. He has been our expert, our confidant and our guiding light.
So, to mark the 2 year anniversary, we will be spending tonight watching a local band raising money for Poole Children’s Unit. This is a special band though. It is a band made up of doctors and nurses, most of whom have treated Felix at one point or another and our very own Dr H! For once, we will be there to support Dr H in his hour of need as he has always been there for us.
So here’s to the next 12 months until the next anniversary and To Martin and the Mavericks – Let’s rock and roll our way through this thing!