"I don’t think anything could ever prepare me for the moment a doctor looked at me and told me that my sporty 13-year-old son had cancer. From that moment our lives completely changed." Mum of two, Julia, shares the story of son Adam's treatment - and how we helped.
"We first started to notice something wasn’t right with Adam in mid-November 2015. He was a big cross-country runner and he was competing at an event representing his school and we could see he was struggling to breathe. Then he started getting stomach pains and night sweats.
"In the two week period from Adam being perfectly fit and well to being too weak to walk, we took Adam to the GP four times, A&E once and the children’s ward at our local hospital. Eventually he was referred to a critical care unit at Kings College Hospital.
"Then the day came that myself and my husband Chris sat down with the consultant and she said ‘it’s cancer’.
"Adam was so critically ill at this stage that I couldn’t imagine him recovering. We were told that he would need 4 to 6 month’s intensive treatment.
"We told Adam and we all cried. After those initial tears, Adam told me that he didn’t want me to cry anymore and I said I would do my best but couldn’t promise that. We had our first laugh the next day when we found out Adam had misheard us – he thought he was facing 46 months of treatment!
Somewhere new to call home
"During all of this we realised that we needed somewhere new to call home. We had been sleeping on camp beds, or chairs, or on the ward itself. We needed to be together, but we couldn’t face the travel – not to mention the costs.
"Travel and accommodation are not aspects that spring to mind immediately when you hear about childhood cancer. But these are hugely important aspects for so many families. Cancer doesn’t just take your child’s health, it takes away your sense of home.
"It was a hard thing to realise that we were going to spend Christmas away from home. It was around this time that the charity CLIC Sargent offered us a room at Paul’s House, their free accommodation in London just around the corner from the hospital.
A warm welcome and a cup of tea
"We had an induction with the wonderful house manager, Eric, who offered us a warm welcome with Christmas cake and a cup of tea. The house felt homely and safe. The simple things that we had taken for granted were appreciated: the house was carpeted, it had curtains, privacy and smells of home – we didn’t have that on the ward.
"Thanks to Paul’s House, we could be together as a family, and that meant so much. You don’t realise how important it is to feel at home. Cancer takes that away from so many families and I know they aren’t all as lucky as we were.
"Recently it was announced that players of the People’s Postcode Lottery have helped raise more than £4.8 million for CLIC Sargent and it is because of fantastic support like this that families like ours can be given their own home away from home.
"Adam is putting his experience of cancer behind him and doing well now. Recently we went back to the house and it’s amazing to think of what we have all been through. Being able to stay together and feel at home made a huge difference."
Between 17 - 21 July, CLIC Sargent are People's Postcode Lottery's featured charity and we're saying thank you to players who have helped raised millions for young cancer patients and their families.