When my Mark was 15 months old, like every evening, I tickled him to sleep. This night was different, and would change our lives forever: this night I felt a lump in his abdomen as he stretched back falling asleep.
I went cold and the first words out my mouth were “Dear Lord, pleas not a tumour!” Still to this day I don’t know how intuitively knew, but I did.
I called the local GP that evening who reassured me children’s organs grow at different accelerations during the first few years and that is was probably and enlarged liver and that it was nothing to worry about.
I tried to sleep that night, but I couldn’t.
We were at the GP’s rooms first thing the next morning. It was inconclusive, and he sent us to our pediatrician. The pediatrician told us it was not the liver but the kidney that was enlarged and that she wanted to run some tests to determine why it was so.
I went cold.
I went numb.
We went to the hospital across the road and started what would turn out to be many tests.
The most traumatic moment was to have the nurses take Mark way from me to sedate him for the abdominal scan. We was screaming for me as they walked away from me with him in their arms, and I fell apart hearing his screams as they tried to find a vein to administer the sedative.
I stood next to the machine as my sleeping child had red laser lines scanned his tiny body before the scan begun. The nurses and medical staff stood in the other room watching the images come up onto their screens. There were too many. They were all looking at pointing at my son’s pictures.
When I asked them what was going on they told me they were not allowed to tell me and that I had to take the results back to the paediatrician.
I held the envelope that would deliver the worst news any parent could ever imagine, ever fear. The drive across the road from the hospital to the rooms seemed like eternity.
My husband met me there. Mark was still sedated. I was in complete denial that anything could be wrong and was looking forward to getting home .
Then can words that could cut you like a knife…as soon as she said the word tumour my hearing tuned out as I reeled in shock. We needed to go for a biopsy at another hospital to determine if it was cancerous or not.
We were told to go to the paediatricain oncology ward for the biopsy.
A few days later we were back in the same ward sitting infront of the Dr who performed the biopsy who told us that our son had kidney cancer.
There might only be one thing worse than hearing the words “You have cancer” and that is “Your child has cancer”
My husband has heard these words before and remained calm as she explained the following procedures. I held my little baby, nearly starting to walk on my lap, in complete denial.
How could this be? He is so healthy! He is so happy! There had been no other symptoms except for the lump!
The following Monday, Mark began the first of many months of chemotherapy. The initial chemo was to shrink the tumour to make the surgery to remove the kidney easier: and as the medication builds up in the body, he seemed to handle it very well.
But as the weeks went on, the side effects room their toll on his tiny body. One of the most stressful memories for me was twirling Mark’s glorious red curls as he slept, and the entire curl fell out.I sobbed my eyes out at the reality of what was happening.
The next extreme stress were the days following his kidney been removed. Mark had never been away from me and procedure forced that his recovery was in the ICU: I slept on a chair in the hospital so that as soon as the heavy sedation would start to wear off I would be in the room next to him so that he would not be scared.
Hospital policy stated that I was only allowed to visit during visiting hours, but the compassionate nurses knew I never went home and allowed me to spend time with him as much as possible.
We had been given a 10 week chemo treatment plan after the kidney was removed. I was gutted when we found out it had to be 27 weeks.
Most of the year was spent in and out of hospitals for treatment and all the knock on effects of it.
Mark’s final chemotherapy was on 7 November, just 10 days before his 2nd birthday. He smiled as I cried finally with a sense of relief that he would finally be able to enjoy what he should be enjoying in life.
We had a huge celebration and party for him. My greatest gift Christmas present was that year…just a few weeks later, Mark had eyebrows!
As a family we are committed to the early warming signs to raises awareness of early detection saves lives, and well as founding the Mark Scott Trust Fund which helps families in similar situations to what we were.
As well as been the patron for Cupcakes for Kids with Cancer and an ambassador for the Cancer Association of South Africa, we show Mark that he was in a fortunate enough position to have parents who are well known, and that we are blessed to be a blessing to others by helping.
Mark attends many fundraising events and charity functions so that he will be aware that life is about giving so that he will be able to continue the trust we have started for him to continue.