Mother of toddler with cancer backs campaign to find a ‘kinder cure’
PUBLISHED: 10:40 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:40 26 September 2017
A Suffolk mother is backing an awareness-raising childhood blood cancer campaign after her own son was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of two.
Bury St Edmunds toddler, Ru Bennett-Day is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and at West Suffolk Hospital, where his mum, Sarah, works as a midwife.
Laying bare her experience of the last 10 months, in support of a campaign by Bloodwise, she said: “When I sat alongside my husband in the hospital and was informed that Ru had leukaemia, I went straight into work mode – find out the facts, understand what the treatment would involve, calmly and rationally provide my husband and my other children with details and emotional support.
“Only as I lay in the hospital bed with our son that night, an overwhelming sense of fear, vulnerability and guilt came over me that I was going to lose him.”
With the physical effects of treatment being mainly short-term, the emotional side effects proved harder to work through for Ru, his parents and siblings.
“A significant part of every day is still consumed emotionally with the knowledge our son has cancer, and we cannot predict what the future may look like,” said Sarah.
September is blood cancer awareness month and childhood cancer awareness month.
Ru and his family were supported with information and advice from Bloodwise, which has launched an awareness campaign to highlight the need for kinder and better targeted treatments for childhood blood cancers – current treatments for which are highly toxic and can have long-term side effects, including infertility, heart and lung problems, psychological problems and an increased risk in developing secondary cancers.
Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research, said one in five children will not survive the most common type of leukaemia, and that many survivors experience side effects during and after treatment.
“We need to save every child’s life, make the treatment process much kinder and give them the life they would have had without cancer,” he added.
A Bloodwise report, ‘Childhood blood cancer; the quest for a kinder cure’, outlines future advances in treatment and contains a foreword by former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, and lawyer, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, whose eldest son is battling blood cancer.