Henry Thompson from Newtownabbey was only three years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in 2015.
His parents Helen and Ian are sharing their story to raise awareness of how Cancer Fund for Children help them throughout this difficult time. This is Henry’s story.
“When Henry was about three-and-a half years old we noticed he wasn’t eating as well and was complaining of having a sore tummy, back and legs. He was also getting lots of bruises and his lips would occasionally go purple and he seemed more tired than usual. Initially we put it down to the fact that he had just started nursery school and thought it must be taking a lot out of him. Then a purple rash appeared and we became concerned. During this time we took him to the doctors a few times and then we asked for a blood test. We were hoping we were wrong but we knew it was something bad.
“Henry’s blood test showed he had almost no red blood cells or platelets left as his blood was nearly completely taken over by the leukaemia cells. He was immediately admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children for five weeks of intensive chemotherapy that December.
“It was such a shock. We were so heartbroken and fearful, and our lives changed from this day. Siblings weren’t allowed on the haematology ward so Henry’s two younger brothers Oliver (2) and Charlie (who was just a 6week old baby at the time) couldn’t visit. Suddenly our family was divided. I had to take time off work to stay in the hospital and my wife Helen and I took turns trying to care for and spend time with all three of our boys. Thankfully our trust in God gave us comfort, strength and peace, even in the midst of such a difficult time.”
Impact of Treatment
“The treatment was rough on Henry. There are so many medications and side effects that we weren’t expecting. He got so weak at one stage that he collapsed in a heap on the way to the bathroom and then was off his feet completely. He left the hospital in a wheelchair and had to learn to stand up and walk again when he was stronger.”
Supporting The Whole Family
“When we found out about Cancer Fund for Children, it was amazing. We got to leave the isolation of spending all of our time either at home or in hospital, and go to their therapeutic short break centre, Daisy Lodge in Newcastle for a short break as a family. The first time we took the kids to the playpark in the grounds of Daisy Lodge, they didn’t really know what to do as it had been so long since they had been at one. That itself would have broken your heart. The reason for this was the treatment wiped out henry’s immune system so we isolated our whole family from people as much as possible to try to keep everyone well and healthy. We rarely left the house.
The charity’s support was just incredible. We all get spoilt at Daisy Lodge and have lots of fun. Meals are made for you and the people there understand what you are going through. The boys frequently ask us when we can go back to visit daisy lodge again as they just love it so much.”
Henry is now 5 1/2 years old and is doing really really well. He also has a new little brother Noah, who was born in March 2018.
His mum Helen added,
“Henry is still on daily chemotherapy but it is a much less intense phase of treatment now compared to the initial 8 months. He still has a weak immune system but he is allowed to be with other children now and we’re delighted with that. However we always worry about infection risk, relapse, and the long-term effects resulting from taking daily chemotherapy for over three years at such a young age.”
Q Radiothon is committed to supporting children like Henry by raising vital funds to support our fantastic charity partners. If you would like to help us make a difference, you can take part in our Big Brunch, hold your own event or make a donation.