I’m writing this blog post to raise awareness of childhood cancers as me and my family, in particular my little boy, have been through a very difficult five years.
When Khalid was just three months old, he was found to have pneumonia and from then his health problems spiralled. In June 2012, I discovered a lump in his groin and immediately took him to A&E where he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. We were devastated.
Following Khalid’s diagnosis we spent the first six months in hospital, which was exhausting - emotionally and physically. Before my baby’s first birthday, he had already undergone an intense course of chemotherapy and had spent most of his life under the roof of the hospital.
We were soon told that Khalid’s treatment had been successful, which was a huge relief. But, sadly, our joy was short lived as a few months later we were told that the cancer had returned. I felt sick to my stomach. He had been through so much already, but together we had to keep fighting.
The next round of chemotherapy failed to stop the cancer and we were advised that Khalid would need a stem cell transplant to try and cure his cancer. This was a nerve-wracking time for us. As Khalid is mixed race it meant there was a reduced chance of us finding a perfect match because there’s fewer people that are a good match on the stem cell register. But, after several weeks of worrying, a new mum in the US gave permission for cells from her baby’s umbilical cord to be donated, which were an 80% match. The cells were frozen and sent across the globe to Birmingham. I do not know the lady or child who donated the cells, but I can’t thank them enough. If, by any chance, you end up reading this blog, I’d like to say a huge thank you - words will never be able to describe how grateful we are.
The treatment made Khalid very poorly but proved successful. He is now five years-old and in remission. He loves Mr Tumble and is now at school. It doesn’t stop there through as he will have check-ups every four months and medication for the rest of his life.
Khalid is the youngest of five and even though it has been extremely tough, it makes me smile when I think about how supportive our other children have been. They stepped up and took him under their wings and helped him through a very difficult time.
I also have twins, who were only eight when he was first diagnosed and missed six months of school initially as we lived in hospital accommodation and they went to the hospital school. Then, when he relapsed, they missed a further year due to the transplant. Cancer affects the whole family – I have had to give up my job too.
As time goes on, we pray he will stay in remission. He’s been through a lot. We’re staying positive and taking each check-up as it comes. We are all excited for Christmas this year and to spend quality time together as a family. Khalid loves Christmas trees with all the lights and decorations, and we are going to see Santa at a Christmas party with friends too – we want to make Christmas as magical as possible.
Tracy and Khalid are supporting Christmas Sock Day on 6 December 2017. Founded by labels-for-less retailer, TK Maxx, the Christmas charity initiative has been established in the UK to help raise funds for Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens.
Show off your favourite Christmas socks and share a snap of your support with a Christmas #socksie. For every #socksie uploaded on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, TK Maxx will donate £1 to Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens. (Full terms and conditions apply). Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens’ aim is to raise money for research into new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer. More children are surviving cancer than ever before, and Cancer Research UK is at the heart of this progress. Visit www.tkmaxx.com to find out more