During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, Chris and Michelle Cornish shared their personal story about the effects of childhood cancer on family life. Local media took up the story and Chris Cornish wrote a guest blog on the CLIC Sargent website.
In September 2013 the Cornish family from Ipswich were about to leave for their holiday in Disneyland. But just as they were making their final preparations Chris and Michelle’s then five year-old son, Jamie, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
Jamie had been feeling unwell for a couple of weeks in the lead up to the holiday. When Michelle and Chris spotted the bruising on their son’s body, they immediately took him to see the family GP.
Soon after diagnosis, Jamie was rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital where he would remain for 10 days to receive a high dosage of chemotherapy. Chris and Michelle had to break the shocking news to Jamie's twin brother Zakk when they could barely absorb it themselves.
Supporting Jamie during treatment
Every month, thousands of children and their families have to cope with the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis. Cancer treatment for children is often gruelling and can start immediately. It can last as long as three years and take place many miles from home.
In the initial stages of treatment, the Cornish family were confronted with all the unexpected costs of supporting their son. It was a welcome surprise to receive a grant of £170 from CLIC Sargent.
Michelle says: "It was simple things, such as paying for hospital parking and buying Jamie every sort of food he craved; one minute he would love something and the next he would hate it. It was a real struggle to get him to eat and keep weight on".
A year on from diagnosis, Jamie is now on long-term maintenance. Jamie's treatment involves predominantly home administered oral chemotherapy with weekly blood tests carried out by CLIC Sargent nurses at the family home.
Michelle continued: "The support our family has received from CLIC Sargent has been invaluable. Jamie has a great relationship with the nurses at Addenbrooke's and Ipswich Hospitals and seeing the same team in hospital as at home is reassuring for him. Our social worker, Christine has also helped Jamie's brother Zakk to overcome his feelings of frustration and he's now much happier".
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Alongside other families and businesses across the UK, Chris and Michelle chose to support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Chris says: "We just hoped to raise as much awareness as possible about childhood cancer and its impact by sharing our experiences. We also sold gold ribbons at work and Michelle helped out at our local supermarket with the CLIC Sargent Big Bucket Collection".
Fundraising Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk, Daisy Turner said: "We are thrilled that Chris and Michelle have been able to raise so much awareness throughout September.
"Last year CLIC Sargent issued 511 grants to local families in East Anglia totalling over £75,000 which is why it is so important that people sign up to Big Bucket Collections and hold their own fundraising events during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month."