Blog post -
#ChildhoodCancerAwarenessMonth: Florence's personal story about her journey.
Florence’s journey started in January 2020 when she was diagnosed with Leukaemia (AML) as a family we were thrust into the world of a cancer diagnosis! We quickly learnt about blood counts, side effects and the gruelling chemotherapy treatment that Florence had to endure.
Florence initially stayed in The Royal Marsden in Surrey for two months and then we came home in March at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. To say that this was a stressful time is a complete understatement. We took solace in being at home altogether as a family. Having been looked after so well by all the professionals at The Marsden I was apprehensive about meeting a new team of people that would support Florence (and me) in the next chapter of her treatment.
When we initially met Trish from the Ellenor team we felt at ease she was supportive, experienced and at the end of the phone when we needed her. We initially started seeing Gillian twice a week for bloods and dressing changes. Florence was very relaxed about having her blood taken even if it involved having to cough or move her arm frantically to get her Hickman line to work. Florence hated with a passion having her dressing changed each week however her and Gillian would often start giggling through the procedure. This involved patience and good humour on Gillian’s part.
Through the Covid-19 pandemic Florence endured several hospital stays and each time she and I required a Covid test. This needed to take place 48 hours before her admittance onto the ward. The Ellenor team carried these out week after week at the weekends and happily accommodated the ever-changing requirements of the hospital admissions. Not only taking swabs from Florence but also me the accompanying Mum.
Through the darkest of lockdown Gillian came each week and I often joked that I see more of her now than my own Mum. She would often call to check on Florence if we ended up in Medway hospital due to frequent blood transfusions or another temperature. Florence has become very fond of Gillian and when she took her blood for the last time, she presented her with a purple heart keyring that she had made. So, despite the occasional tears and stubbornness Florence acknowledged that Gillian has supported her through this roller coaster journey.
I can honestly say that I like many others will be glad to see the back of 2020 but despite a cancer diagnosis we have met some amazing and caring professionals. All the nurses especially Gillian and Trisha that have visited our home over the last few months have been friendly, professional and put both my girls as ease.
But back to the main little girl on this journey my beautiful, courageous, sassy 9 year old daughter Florence who despite some truly awful side effects and intense chemotherapy is now reaching the end of her cancer journey and we could not be more proud of her. She has such strength of character which has enabled her to take each of the setbacks in her stride and smash her treatment.
Thank you, Ellenor Team,
Florence and Sarah Baker