The Big C Diagnosis

Finding out the you or a loved one has Cancer is never easy, those words just fill you with all sorts of emotions and worries, finding out that Sophie had leukemia (like a lot of this journey) wasn't straight forward,  It started with a sore leg.

Sophie had been painting some large pieces of scenery for her GCSE Drama on the floor of our kitchen over many hours and several evenings, and we thought that sitting in awkward positions for that amount of time had pulled a muscle in her leg.

After a few days with the pain not going away, we took her to the osteopath to have a look.  They could feel there was tightness in the leg and some immediate light work in the area offered some relief. We booked a follow up appointment a week later, but to be honest the pain did not really get any better. During this time Sophie did her best to get around school, but it got quite painful so she did some of her lessons from home.

Upon our last visit to the osteopath, he took one look at the back of her leg and simply said “That looks infected, or it looks like a blood clot. It’s definitely swollen, hot and red, I am not going to touch that and I think you would be best to go to A&E.”

So that’s exactly what we did, we drove over to East Surrey where Sophie was taken into Paediatric A&E and the doctors started to do some tests. Initially we were asked, “Does your daughter always look this pale?” To be honest, she looked the same to me. A blood test came back that she was anaemic and that many things could be the cause, not least the possible infection going on in her leg.

So the hospital wanted to immediately give Sophie some blood and some pain relief, so she was admitted onto Earlswood Ward. As each day went on, different consultants were examining her leg and a variety of scans, x-rays, CT and MRI confirmed there was a large infection in her leg, this was parallel to investigations for her continued dipping blood counts. They started to treat her with a spectrum of antibiotics to fight the infection they had diagnosed.

After a week a decision to operate to clean out the infection was made, this was on the same day that Sophie was sent to the Royal Marsden for a bone marrow aspirate, in our minds this was to rule out Cancer. That same Thursday evening the doctors asked to speak to Emma and I privately and we were told, she has B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, naturally we were devastated.

There was no way we could tell Sophie right away and the oncology specialists at East Surrey said they could tell her, with us there if that would be easier. So we delayed the most difficult conversation we’ve ever had with her until Friday.

Friday arrived and the oncology consultant and specialist nurse had the most amazing talk with Sophie, gently telling her what was going on with her body and her blood and then said “Do you know what this all means?” and Sophie said in a calm and so grown up manor “I have cancer.”

I’m not kidding you when I say even typing this I find myself welling up, our daughter was so strong in learning of this news, her attitude was at the time was “OK, lets get this leg sorted and then we can deal with the leukemia."  Preparations were then made to move Sophie to St Georges on Sunday for an operation to clean out the infection.

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