Daniel was diagnosed with Sarcoma Cancer in December 2020 – he was 15, nearly 16. It all started with an achy leg, which the family thought was just a pulled ligament from football. It got worse so they had it x-rayed. That is when they found the tumour on his knee.
They ended up at the JR children’s hospital almost immediately to start chemotherapy, which Daniel had for nearly a year – meaning he was in hospital every few weeks.
2021 was particularly bad for Daniel, spending almost a whole year in hospital. He had knee replacement surgery to take the tumour out but unfortunately, after this, he got an infection and had to go back for another operation. This meant that he spent around 9 months out of 12 in hospital. During that time he was almost completely bedbound as he couldn’t walk, but he coped really well.
By the end of 2021 the tumour had spread to his legs and shoulder. This was devastating news. They could not operate on all the tumours. So it was a case of making him as comfortable as they could and concentrating on making memories.
Daniel’s mum, Julie said, “We found it almost impossible because obviously no one wants to tell their child they’re dying. As a family, we couldn’t find the right way to tell him. I didn’t want to scare him and I didn’t want him to give up. I wanted him to fight as long as he could.”
Support from Helen & Douglas House
For a long time he did not want to come in to the hospice, he was scared and thought he wouldn’t be able to leave once he came in. He hated the idea of hospice care at the start.
Sian (Outreach Nurse) visited Daniel’s house every couple of weeks to check on him. She helped make bucket list activities possible for Daniel; like trips to Silverstone and a Manchester United match. She’d spend time with the whole family, including Daniel’s brother James and his sister Hannah, encouraging them to share their feelings.
“I used to get wobbly because he was on so much medication and I was managing dosages. I used to get in a little bit of a flap, wondering if I was doing the right thing but someone from Helen & Douglas House was always there. All I had to do was pick up the phone and a specialist would reassure me or provide advice.”
“The nurses were wonderful. They were with us by our side. I asked Daniel, do you want to go to Helen & Douglas House? Oh, yes, mum. Let’s go to Helen & Douglas House. That’s where he wanted to be. As soon as he was moved from the ambulance into bed he laid back and let out a sigh of relief.
Going to Helen & Douglas House was the best decision we made. Without the hospice, we would have fallen apart – and no one facing the death of their child should have to cope alone.” Daniel’s mum, Julie
“It is paradise here at Helen & Douglas House. I was scared to come here, but after being here for 30 minutes, I didn’t want to leave.” said Daniel
Daniel died at the hospice the day he arrived for the final time, after which the family were supported for a further 6 days at Helen & Douglas House before the undertakers came.
“They cooked us all meals. They were there to talk to us. There were people coming out with endless cups of tea. And it was just incredible. For six days that went on. I can’t imagine you’d get that care anywhere else. There was no rush. I didn’t want to leave Daniel. We stayed with him right until he left. And that was just amazing.” Daniel’s mum, Julie
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