Doncaster mum will never forget the support received after son was diagnosed with 'aggressive' cancer
Mum Charlotte Harrison still remembers when she first noticed her son was poorly.
There was no thought at the time he may have cancer. The family had gone out for a meal together, and son George, then aged 13, from Wadworth, seemed to have an upset stomach. with diarrhea and vomiting.
"I thought he’d just caught a bug or eaten something,” she said.
Eventually, she took him to Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Medics thought he may have gastroenteritis.
But mum Charlotte knew something was not right, and took him to the family doctors.
The GP was concerned enough to call an ambulance to take George to DRI. He was given an X ray and scan – which raised the possibility he had cancer.
Transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Charlotte remembers the next day as a blur, with doctors and nurses buzzing around her son. Eventually they told her George had cancer – non Hodgkin's Burkitt's lymphoma.
"It’s the most aggressive form there is,” said Charlotte. “In those few days, George went from a normal, very active young lad to being seriously ill.”
Doctors quickly operated to remove pressure that the illness was causing in his abdomen. He was placed in an induced coma for 10 days, in the intensive care unit.
He was soon put on a high dose of chemotherapy, for 18 hours a day for six days. He went from seven stone to five stone in weight, having to be fed by a tube at night.
That was March 2018.
But throughout his time at the hospital, Charlotte and husband Roger received support from PACT – Parents' Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia – a charity which runs flats where relatives can stay during their child’s time in hospital. It provided a bed, a shower and a toilet, and a shared kitchen.
"There was a period where we didn’t go home for several months,” said Charlotte. “You don’t sleep, but you take cat naps.”
George’s treatment was so severe he had to learn to walk and eat again. His stomach shrank and took time to return to normal.
But he fought the disease and in October 2018, received the all clear. He still returns for check-ups every four months.
Now George is back at Sir Thomas Wharton Academy in Edlington, looking to the future and hoping to be an apprentice joiner or plumber.
But his family have not forgotten the support they received from PACT.
They have already run a number of fundraisers, including a car wash run by George himself.
The family run an antiques and auctioneers business – and early next year they will run an auction to raise money for PACT.
All the auctioneers fees will be waived, with customers making donations to PACT instead. They are also asking for any donations of items to auction purely for PACT.
The auction will be at Harrisons Antique Centre and Auction House on Lidget Lane, Thurnscoe. There will also be online and phone bidding at the auction, currently scheduled for January 17.
"I wouldn’t wish what we went through on anyone,” said Charlottle. “But the support we had from PACT was amazing, even down to bringing sandwiches to make sure parents got something to eat.”
Contact Charlotte with donations on 07889 724270.