I knew that my son, Jayden, wasn’t being his usual self, but I never thought it would turn out to be something as serious as cancer. He had pains in his legs and looked very pale – he also wasn’t eating properly so I decided to have it checked out.
It was initially diagnosed as “growing pains”, but I took him to hospital where he had some blood tests. Sent to another children’s hospital for further tests, later that day myself and my husband, Andrew, were given the news that Jayden had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and needed to start a course of chemotherapy straight away.
Hearing that news about your child was one of the worst moments of my life. I just couldn’t believe it. Jayden was a happy, healthy seven-year-old boy; I just couldn’t comprehend the idea that my child could have something so terrifying.
Jayden started his treatment immediately but, unfortunately, he wasn’t responding well after four weeks so had to be changed to a much stronger regime. The new chemotherapy treatment made him so poorly. It was so difficult to watch Jayden in pain and not be able to do anything to help him feel better. The feeling of helplessness was extremely hard to deal with.
We had to do everything for him. He couldn’t eat for himself so had to be fed through a tube and also lost the use of his legs which was heartbreaking to see.
What made it even more difficult was the fact we had to juggle Jayden’s illness with looking after our other two younger children, Jamie and Aimee-Kate. We had to spend pretty much all our time at the hospital looking after Jayden, which meant that we had to call upon our parents to step in to look after the rest of the family.
We felt so torn. Obviously we didn’t want to neglect Jamie and Aimee-Kate but we just couldn’t leave Jayden – we wanted to be by his side the whole time for when he needed us. Our friends and family were complete life-savers throughout the whole process – we honestly could not have made it through without them.
Jayden has come on so much in the last year and is now in remission, which we pray just continues. He has been so brave, he is our little superhero! He’s now on maintenance treatment which is causing a few side effects that we’re still working through. He is currently wearing splints on his legs to help him walk and has to use a wheelchair when he is too tired.
However, Jayden is absolutely loving being back at school two mornings a week. He has missed all his friends so much and is enjoying catching up with everything. He especially loves his maths lessons (not sure where he got that from). It is so amazing to be able to do things as a whole family again. We’re all starting to enjoy family days out - along with the dog of course - especially to the seaside.
We were so excited to get an invite to the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards Party. It was our first ever trip to London as a family and Jayden couldn’t wait to meet some other children who had been through a similar experience to him. It was such a special day to help raise awareness about cancers affecting children and young people, and the work needed to find new, better and kinder treatments.
Jayden and his family are supporting the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, which celebrate the strength and courage of children and young people facing cancer. For more information, please visit cruk.org/kidsandteens.