Many bereaved parents find it helpful to share their experiences with others and to hear from parents in similar positions to themselves. As part of our grief support, we are building a database of stories, meaningful poems or prose that have helped you or others through the grieving process. These meaningful words offer reassurance, relief from distress, or a much-needed conncection to someone who understands.
How It All Began - Rosie Crane's Story
It was just before her 23rd birthday when Rosie was diagnosed with leukaemia. She had been complaining of tiredness and aching joints, but as she had just started a new job and was going to the gym twice a week it didn't seem unusual. Then bruises started to appear on her body and she decided to go to the doctor. He took some blood samples and didn't appear too alarmed but rang the next day to tell her to go into hospital on Monday for some tests. We still didn't think anything was really wrong, perhaps just an imbalance in her blood. At the hospital they seemed to be expecting us and ‘Urgent' was written across her file. It was then we started to worry and it only got worse. When the consultant told her she had leukaemia, I stood in front of her, covering her ears and shouted at the consultant "You can't tell her that, you must have got it wrong!" But more tests were carried out and the diagnosis was definite. Then we were told that if she didn't have treatment she would be dead within four weeks.
We were told to go home for three days while the hospital sorted out her treatment. Those were very hard days, knowing she had leukaemia but being unable to start the treatment yet. When she was admitted to hospital we were given a lot of support; the nurses and consultants were wonderful. She had four sessions of chemotherapy, just enough to kill off the leukaemia without killing off her immune system. She would come out of hospital for a few days between each treatment and those were special days full of love and hope that the treatment would be successful.
Rosie completed her treatment in May and took her accountancy exams as she had continued her studies while she was in hospital. But within a few weeks it became clear to me that her leukaemia had returned and she had to be re-admitted to hospital. In spite of further treatment her leukaemia kept returning and a donor was needed urgently for her to be able to have a transplant. The consultant sent us to the Bristol Children's Hospital, where they did the transplants, just for a consultation, but Rosie was admitted immediately, as an emergency. She had full body radiotherapy, which relieved the pain in her bones, and then chemotherapy to kill off her immune system completely. As her leukaemia kept returning she needed a special type of transplant, which didn't match hers completely and would recognise the need to fight the disease. Her brother and two sisters were tested to see who would be most suitable. Her brother was the one whose immune system would help Rosie the most. He then had some treatment to increase his immune system and donated some to her.
After the transplant we had the long wait to see if her new immune system would build back up enough to fight off the leukaemia. Unfortunately, she developed a chest infection before her immune system was strong enough to cope with it. Each day she got weaker and found it more difficult to breathe. We were told she was going to die but chose to tell her later on when all hope had gone. I couldn't find the words to tell her and had to get the consultant to do it. She took it so well just asking if there was anything else they could give her.
When we were on our own she looked at me and said "Oh Mum, what will you do?" She then turned to her fiancé, who had been with her every day for the ten months of her illness, and asked what he would do. We promised to look after each other, crying and holding each other tight. She died peacefully two days later with her family at her side. Rosie was brave and courageous to the very end, more concerned with how we would cope than with herself. Her beautiful smile and frequent giggle will stay with us forever along with all our many happy memories.