Posted on Friday 7 December 2018
Matilda was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in December 2016 when she was just three-years-old. CLIC Sargent provided a space in one of the charity’s Homes from Home when the journey became too difficult to manage.
Matilda’s parents took her to the doctor several times before she was diagnosed and they became increasingly worried that their concerns weren’t being taken seriously. Towards the end of October 2016 Matilda was diagnosed with pneumonia and a month later she still hadn’t recovered properly. After taking her to the GP a few days earlier and leaving in tears, her parents decided to go straight to A&E.
Matilda’s mum Gabby was at home with her four month old brother Marley while dad Dave was at the hospital with her. They carried out numerous checks and examinations, and were eventually told they would have to return in the morning for more tests and results. They woke early to five missed calls from the hospital.
Gabby says: “In that moment we knew for sure it was something really bad.”
After more tests and a long day in hospital, they were eventually told that Matilda had cancer.
Gabby says: “Early the next morning an ambulance came to take Matilda to Bristol. It had to arrive at 5am to avoid the traffic and get her there quickly. Matilda stayed in Bristol for five weeks from that day and Dave stayed with her on the ward. There was only space for one parent to stay on the ward and because Marley was breastfed I had to stay with him.
“This created a huge logistical issue for us – we only had one car as I hadn’t driven for a number of years and wasn’t confident driving back and forth to the hospital. I needed to be with Marley, but that meant I was stuck at home. I had to rely on lifts from friends and family to the hospital to see Matilda and keep our family together during the days.”
“We live in Trowbridge which is around 30 miles from Bristol city centre, and at rush hour at Christmas, it was a three hour round trip which was made harder because Marley hated being in the car and cried hysterically for nearly every journey.
“CLIC Sargent staff could see that we just couldn’t carry on like this in our current situation and after the first week they found us a room at the Home from Home, CLIC house. It was also close enough to home that l could go home weekly and gather much needed supplies to try and keep the ever mounting costs down a little.”
The family hoped to be able to go home on Christmas Eve, but sadly at the very last moment Matilda got a serious infection and she had to be isolated to her room and treated for a minimum of ten days.
Gabby says: “Marley had his first Christmas at CLIC House and confined to Matilda’s hospital room, and it happened to be Matilda’s worst day. It was just a case of getting through the day and trying to treat it as ‘just another day’, which was really difficult as you were mentally comparing the day you were faced with, with the day it should have been.”
Matilda is currently on maintenance treatment which she is due to finish in February 2019.
CLIC Sargent has paid tribute to its founder, Bristolian Bob Woodward, who died on 20 January 2019, aged 85.
Artwork from young artists across the UK, who have all experienced cancer, is to be showcased at three special events, hosted by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, to mark World Cancer Day.