Sunday, 27 September 2009

Zoe: The diagnosis

Sonny's got cancer. We found out while we were on holiday in Italy. I'd known he wasn't himself for a while but I kept thinking that my withdrawn boy was grieving for his grandad and that maybe he was even depressed... I couldn't understand why he didn't want to swim in the sea and how come this boy who hated the sun was suddenly happy to lie on a sun lounger reading book after book rather than kick a ball on the sand. God he was getting thin. Turns out he has cancer. The simple cottage hospital in the depth of the beautiful Italian countryside suggested taking him to a paediatric hospital 30km away - Sonny helped me find it. They swooped on him 'the little pale English boy' and gravely told me he had pneumonia - a very large pneumonia. Within minutes he was receiving antibiotics, being shown to our room and I was feeling vaguely releived. X rays were done and a doctor popped in and mentioned something about lymph nodes... Gavin had booked the next flight out as I'd need help looking after Ruby - they were bound to keep him in for a few days.

Sonny was really sick. We were both alarmed about the depth of his vomiting. The days are a blur but Gav arrived and as he left to look after Ruby we had to go and have some more tests done - an ultrasound and more x rays. I was then asked to sit in a room I hadn't seen before, one with cushions and tissues and my head began to roar in pain as,between their clumsy English and my basic Italian, they revealed that Sonny had lymphoma. Lymphoma sounds bad, sounds like cancer. They were saying my nine year old superstar wonder kid had cancer.

Thank god for holiday insurance - First Assist if you are interested. Flights home were hastily arranged via an air ambulance and family and friends were frantically informed. But then we had a telephone call from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to say that Sonny wasn't well enough to travel home and that we'd be transferred in the morning to Pesaro, 150km away.

The next 10 days were horrendous. We had to digest the awfulness of Sonny's diagnosis. We didn't speak anything more than basic restaurant Italian. Our son had a life threatening disease and it was too dangerous to fly him home, we were in Italy a long way from our holiday house and we had a houseful of people arriving, or yet to arrive on holiday. Great Ormond Street were simply amazing - they were on the phone 'just checking you were ok' but the Italian specialists were wanting to do procedures involving general anaesthetics that the team at GOSH had reservations about. This was the land of head fuck central and our boy was at the centre of it. After much heartache and tears we put our foot down and demanded that they follow the advice of GOSH to begin steriod treatment for Tcell Lymphoma to shrink the mass to enable Sonny to fly home - in a bloomin' Lear Jet.

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