Two mums whose children both contracted leukemia at the same time have lent their support to an effort to build a new cancer ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Elyssia Cobb and Lucas Jarvis-Holmes, both of Chesterfield, were rushed to the hospital’s blood and cancer ward in the middle of the night almost exactly a year apart.
They were both diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, an aggressive condition which affects around 325 children in the UK every year and requires immediate treatment.
Elyssia and Lucas’ mums, Jessica Cobb and Louisa Jarvis, have now spoken of what they went through - and how improved facilities at the hospital would have helped them.
“The first week was really scary - we didn’t sleep at all,” said Jessica.
“For the first six months, we were in Sheffield Children’s Hospital three times a week, having various procedures and therapies.
“It was very difficult, because Elyssia was only three years old and she didn’t understand.
“She would scream - ‘I’m sorry Mummy, I’m sorry, I won’t be naughty. I won’t do it again’ when she was in agony. It broke my heart”.
Often required to spend several nights at a time on the ward, both mums had to sleep on a chair or a camp bed so they could stay with their child during their treatment.
“When Lucas was rushed to hospital, I also had my seven-week-old son with me. I couldn’t leave them, so he slept by my side on two pillows,” said Louisa.
“If the new facilities can make their jobs a little easier and help families stay together during the most distressing of times, it would make such a difference for everyone.”
Amazingly, Louisa and Jessica had previously been friends but had lost touch until bumping into each other on the ward.
“My initial reaction was ‘please don’t tell me this is happening to you too!’,” said Louisa.
“But we supported each other through it. If something good came out of it, it was that we managed to reconnect.”
Louisa and Jessica are now full of praise for the hospital which brought them together again in the most difficult of circumstances, and to which they owe so much.
“The care has been amazing and the hospital has become a home-from-home,” said Jessica.
“When the treatment finished, the hardest challenge was not having the doctors and nurses around as our comfort blanket.”
“The staff are angels and I’ve no idea how they do it,” added Louisa.
The Children’s Hospital Charity has launched an appeal to completely transform the cancer and leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, to match the existing world-class care with world-class facilities.
The ward serves as the principal treatment centre for children with cancer and leukaemia from babies through to 19 year olds in South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Derbyshire. It treats 100 children a year, from as far south as Northampton.
Under the plans, the ward would be completely redesigned and refurbished with
better facilities for families.
The number of isolation cubicles will also be increased, to help those with weak immune systems recover more quickly and create home-from-home bedrooms, easing the anxiety for patient and parent alike.
Elyssia and Lucas, who are both now six, have now successfully completed their treatment and become the best of friends.
Incredibly, both children did so on the same day last December, celebrating their remission by ringing the ward bell together.
The two families now arrange their routine check-ups for the same days, so they can all go to the hospital together.
To find out how you can support the fundraising effort for a new world-class cancer and leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, visit www.tchc.org.uk.