In my career I’ve learned to rely on my training and experience. As a mother of three small children – a juggling act, and a journey into the unknown at times – I’ve had to trust my instincts.
While at the Lyla Nsloui Foundation’s special performance of the Gruffalo last month, I was suddenly reminded of a dark period in my own family's life. Lyla Nsloui was a little girl with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG),an untreatable, incurable, inoperable and aggressive brain cancer. Heartbreakingly, Lyla passed away not long after her third birthday. I encourage you to learn more about the foundation set up in her memory here
At the event I felt so sad for Lyla’s parents. And also rather shaken as I remembered how close I came to losing my son to a life-threatening illness.
As a mother, when you know something is wrong, you need to trust your gut. Shortly after I had my third child, I started to notice some slight but still perceptible changes in my two-year-old son. He kept losing his balance, developed a slight tremor and said his head hurt. I took him to several doctors but was told “he will grow out of it” and “nothing to worry about”and “bring him back in six months”.
My mother’s instinct said no. I kept going until I found a specialist at The Cromwell Hospital, Dr Mike Markiewicz. After tests and scans our worst fears were confirmed. My precious little son had a brain tumour.
He went through a long painful surgery and recovery. Thankfully the tumour was benign but that’s not the end of the story. Due to the size of the growth, my son had to learn how to sit and walk again, to rebuild his strength and his motor skills. He has a full diary of regular check-ups at Great Ormond Street Hospital to ensure that the remaining tumour tissue has not grown or altered.
As each appointment approaches I get sleepless nights. I want him to lead a normal life, but I do watch for signs constantly. I don’t want to mollycoddle him. But I worry. We don’t take a single day for granted. I’m so relieved that I kept going, searching for an answer to his illness, in the face of so much skepticism from the medical profession. That’s what I truly learned through this experience. I’m grateful that my son is alive and I’m also more determined than ever to trust my instincts.
I have set up a page for a charity that I hold very close to my heart. Come and support an incredible institution, and the great work they do for children click here