Felix was three when he was diagnosed with leukaemia after his mum Jayne noticed he had cancer symptoms. Now seven, Felix has finished treatment and his family is adjusting to the 'new normal'.
His mum Jayne says he was lucky to be diagnosed quickly but has seen through friends the impact of a delayed diagnosis on a family.
Jayne said: “The first sign that there was anything wrong was when I noticed Felix had some bruises on his back when I was getting him dressed.
"The fear of leukaemia actually flashed through my mind, but I thought I was just being over the top and neurotic. The next evening I discovered a rash on his legs so I took him to the GP.
"The doctor felt it was possibly a viral rash and referred us to the main hospital the next morning for blood tests. At hospital the next morning, Felix was given a thorough check up and they agreed that he should have a blood test.
A bubble of panic
"At about 2pm we were told Felix had leukaemia. I felt like I was going to faint - this big bubble of panic and terror overwhelmed me and I couldn’t believe I was hearing those words.
"We were transferred by ambulance to Bristol Children’s Hospital (90 minutes from home) that evening to begin treatment.
"On the Thursday, Felix’s chemotherapy began. The first phase of treatment was particularly terrifying as he became so unwell and the steroids completely changed his personality and appearance.
"The treatment was very hard going for Felix - he lost his hair twice, suffered severe pain, was too weak to walk, felt sick and was utterly exhausted. Because he had seemed so well when he was diagnosed, it felt like we had made him poorly by giving him the medicines.
"Felix finished treatment on 16 April 2015 after three years and three months - half of his life! His diagnosis completely changed our lives and we are now currently trying to adjust to the new normal of being off treatment and coming to terms with what we have been through.
"From our perspective Felix had a very early diagnosis. The consultant said Felix must have only had leukaemia for a couple of weeks maximum. This was important because it meant he was very fit so he coped with the treatment better.
Not everyone has that voice
"Most children aren’t diagnosed until they’re seriously ill – usually when they’ve picked up a serious infection – which can set their treatment back a lot.
"I’ve always worked in the medical field so I’m not intimidated by doctors – I would be assertive and voice my concerns. But not everyone has got that voice. So doctors need to be aware of that and make sure they listen to parents.
"We were lucky to be diagnosed quickly and I have seen through friends the impact a delayed diagnosis can have. Early diagnosis is really important. I never once had any doubt about the care we received because Felix was diagnosed so quickly. They trusted my instincts. They treated us so well. We have always had total confidence in what they were doing.”
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