Family devastated by three-year-old boy's leukaemia diagnosis
A YATE couple say their three-year-old son’s childhood is being "stripped away" after he was suddenly diagnosed with leukaemia.
Mitch Clark and Sophie Kenvin's son Jaxson faces years of treatment to save his life.
And with the family constantly on the move between hospital and home, having already been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of donors have joined a fundraising campaign to help them through.
Jaxson’s symptoms started to appear at the beginning of November, when he started to have leg pains.
Sophie said: “He was moaning about his legs. They were hurting and aching and he didn’t want to walk anywhere – we thought maybe he’d pulled something.”
Then during a weekend sleepover at his grandma’s house, Jaxson had two heavy nosebleeds.
When Sophie collected him she found a thyroid gland on his neck had swelled to "the size of a golf ball". She called the NHS 111 line and mumps was suggested as a possible cause, but Sophie was not convinced, as Jaxson had already been vaccinated.
The following Monday Jaxson had a temperature and Sophie rang her GP surgery in Kennedy Way, Yate. She was told that he had to have a COVID-19 test before he could be seen, but when the test came back negative and the high temperature persisted, she called again, convinced that something else was wrong.
At the appointment Jaxson was initially offered antibiotics for tonsillitis, but when the doctor called Bristol Children’s Hospital for advice and listed all the symptoms, Sophie was told to take him there immediately.
Sophie said: “I panicked. I googled nose bleeds and swollen glands, and the first thing that came up was leukaemia. Mitch was like ‘no, it's not – don’t be silly’.”
Sophie stayed with Jaxson in the hospital on her own while tests were done, because only one parent was allowed in due to Covid-19 safety measures. When the couple were told that Jaxson had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a form of cancer affecting the white blood cells - they were both allowed to stay, to enable them to be together following the devastating news.
Jaxson is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy. Although he has responded well to treatment and is able to spend some of his time at home, he has had to return to hospital when the side effects become too much and to help his fluid intake.
As the Voice went to press, Sophie and Mitch were hoping that he would be able to spend Christmas Day at home.
But Jaxson's treatment is expected to continue for the next three and a half years, which Sophie says has "stripped him of his childhood".
A family friend has set up a fundraising campaign to support Mitch and Sophie, who are struggling financially.
Mitch lost his job as a chef during the first lockdown and had just got back into his previous job as a barber when the second lockdown hit.
He had a job interview lined up, but he had to cancel it when Jaxson was hospitalised.
Sophie Kenvin with Bella and Mitch Clark with Jaxson, before his diagnosis.
A fundraising campaign set up by friends on website Gofundme.com was on the verge of reaching £10,000 as the Voice went to press, with more than 380 donors.
Writing to supporters on the site, Mitch said: "As you can imagine our whole world has been turned upside-down and his battle has only just begun. Every sector of the children’s hospital have been amazing, not just for Jaxson but for us as well, and we can’t thank them enough."
The couple are also being supported by the charity CLIC Sargent, which is paying for petrol for their hospital visits. They are taking it in turns to be at home their 18 month old daughter Bella, and at the hospital with Jaxson.
When Jaxson comes home, his parents have to administer his treatment.
Sophie said: "It’s a lot on us – we’ve gone home with all the medicines and we’ve had to do that twice a day – he’s scared as it is – he had such an awful time at the start.
"He ended up with about 12 cannulas (medication tubes), so he’s terrified every time anyone comes in with a syringe.
"When we’re doing the meds he tells us that he hates us – he doesn’t understand what we’re doing and that we’re trying to help him.
"I can distract myself from what happened, but the night I got told of his diagnosis comes back to haunt me."
To support the online fundraising campaign visit uk.gofundme.com/f/daddy-when-can-i-go-home.