He’s a sporty kid who loves a rough and tumble game of rugby with his dad and pedalling around on his bike. Even during his treatments in hospital, and when he was labouring to breathe, Harry was still sprinting up and down the corridors and playing football!
But nothing could truly hide the horrors of what Harry was going through after he was diagnosed with leukaemia just a couple of months after he turned two. In addition to invasive treatments, having to be held down for multiple procedures, needing his blood taken, and with a tube up his nose to administer medication, Harry also had a vicious side-effect from one of the chemotherapy drugs and it paralysed his vocal cords.
As Harry’s mum, Harriet, explains,
“You learn in hospital that the journey is more about tolerating the treatment for a lot of children. The drugs are so toxic. After the initial phase of treatment, Harry lost his voice and started snoring; he was diagnosed with croup a couple of times, but actually this was a sign that the nerves in his vocal cords were damaged from one of the chemotherapy drugs.
“Over Christmas, Harry was really struggling to breathe – and it came to a peak when I was in labour with Rosie. While I was in hospital having Rosie, Harry was in the same building in the emergency department with his dad. Mark managed to slip out to meet her when Harry was sleeping.
“We thought things were calming down when Harry was discharged but, less than 24 hours later, he was rushed back in – it was a ‘code blue’, the highest level of emergency. Harry was intubated and admitted to the intensive care unit. We were told that he would have died if he had been brought in only 20 minutes later. Harry was on ventilation support in ICU when he first met his baby sister, but he knew she was there. She was such a joy in that time period.
“After that, Mark spent nearly every single night in hospital with Harry from January to March; Harry needed to have a tracheostomy inserted to enable him to breathe and get through treatment. Mark took leave from work, and has been the most stand-up parent for Harry while I have cared for Rosie.”