"We were referred to Sheffield Children’s and we met our heroes"

Two years ago, Alfie was diagnosed with stage two kidney cancer. Here is his story, told by his mum Emma.

As a family we love Christmas. While this year will be different as we continue to all unite together against coronavirus, it will be very special to us as our son Alfie will be at home opening presents with the biggest grin on his face after undergoing chemotherapy last year.

But two years ago, it was all so different. During the summer of 2018, doctors diagnosed Alfie with stage two kidney cancer - he had a Wilms tumour.

Christmas wasn’t like we imagined it would be, as Alfie was nearing the end of his six months of chemotherapy treatment. Whilst many were organising parties and buying presents, we were on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Our journey began back in 2018 when Alfie slipped on one of his toys, which wasn’t unusual, but a few hours later that evening he was still in pain and pointed to his back as it was hurting. I took him to our local hospital, but everything seemed to calm down, so we went home assuming he had just pulled something in his back. 

But as soon as we got home he was sick, red hot and we did not sleep at all that night. We took him back to hospital and after blood tests, a chest x-ray and an ultrasound, the doctors found the tumour.

We were all heartbroken. I still struggle to put into words how we felt after seeing Alfie in so much pain. He was screaming, crying and he’d start again when anyone walked into the room.

We were referred to Sheffield Children’s and this is where we met our heroes; the amazing staff, doctors, nurses and play specialists. We found the care simply amazing. On our first night there, a nurse told us: “Don’t worry, we’re like a big family here” and it is certainly true.

They all learned to understand Alfie, his ways and how to deal with him so quickly. They helped to bring him on as a person so much and it made it all that bit easier for us.

At first, he didn’t walk for ten days and even when he started again, it was like he was a baby learning to walk again for the first time, trying to find his balance.

When he was first diagnosed, we were in a small room with no windows or natural light. Eventually, we moved onto the open ward, but it was cramped and Alfie was definitely not a quiet child so we felt bad for disturbing all the other patients.

A few weeks later, Alfie came back for an operation to remove his tumour and the affected kidney. We stayed on one of the new wards after his operation to remove his tumour and his kidney. You can see the massive difference in how much more comfortable it is for the patient as well as the family. The new bedrooms were bright, spacious with privacy. 

Alfie loved it and I am sure it helped him with his recovery. We would love to help bring these bedrooms to the Cancer and Leukaemia ward as some patients are there for long periods of time. For us, every week got ‘easier’ as Alfie became used to going into clinic, although it cost us a fortune in treats!

Just days before his third birthday, we got the phone call to say he was all-clear. It was such a relief. Seeing him ring the bell was an amazing feeling I will never forget.

We’re determined to help make the ward better for all the children and families that are about to begin their journey there, and for the friends that we’ve made along the way that are still carrying on. It’s our way of saying thank you for saving our son’s life.

If you are able to make a donation, please be reassured it will make a difference for families like ours.

We hope you have a lovely Christmas. 

Emma, Alfie’s Mummy