Crack up for Childhood Cancer

IMG_4160Over five years ago I received the news that my eldest child had leukaemia. It didn’t come as an enormous shock to me, he had clearly been unwell for a while. I didn’t feel hysterical, shocked or even tearful as you might expect. I felt relieved. Relieved that there was a reason why my son couldn’t climb the stairs, why he was falling more frequently, why his joints had been troubling him and why he looked so ill and grey. I was relieved that his diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) meant that he could be treated with a highly refined and successful protocol. In many ways I think we have been lucky. He has been off any treatment for over two years now. The risk of relapse is very low indeed and he is a normal, healthy boy. You can read more about our experiences here.

Five years ago, things were very different. Although the treatment for his form of ALL is all delivered on an outpatient basis, he spent most of December in hospital because of how ill it made him. He was anaemic and required blood transfusions, he had infections and at times he was in a lot of pain. Whenever he was admitted to hospital, one of the things that got us through was laughter. Despite his young age (he was only three) he could ‘get’ certain jokes. We tried our best to find simple gags to keep him (and us) laughing. One of my best friends, whose brother had died of leukaemia ten years earlier (he was much older and had a lot more complications due to his other health issues) got her Mum to collect the jokes from Christmas crackers for us. It was a great idea and now I want to resurrect it.

Last week I got the news that a little boy we have known since his birth has a tumour that is likely to need some fairly aggressive chemotherapy in the New Year. It is fair to say that I was more shocked and horrified by this news than I was about my own son’s cancer. His parents have a lot to think about at the moment because his cancer is rarer and requires more specialised treatment. At times like this it is natural to want to help but really, there is only so much you can do. I will certainly be making some one-pot home cooked meals to give them because I know how much I appreciated such things when my boy was sick. I will keep my appointments to give blood because I know how important transfusions are in cancer treatment. But what I want to do most of all is find something to make this little boy smile when times are tough.

I had a brain wave on Wednesday. It was Christmas dinner day at my children’s school and all the children get a cracker. I quickly rustled up a cracker shaped container and enlisted the help of the Deputy Head to collect all the jokes. The staff and children did a brilliant job of donating their jokes – we collected well over 100. Of course, lots of them are the same joke repeated but it feels good to know that everyone played their part.

So, I want your help. Send me your cracker jokes, send me your ‘Doctor, Doctor’ jokes, send me any jokes that will make an eight year old laugh and I will pass them on. You can leave them in the comments here. If you are local I will collect the actual jokes from the crackers from you. If you are not local but want to send me the jokes from inside your crackers, mention it in your comment and I will let you know how to post them.

I really hope that you can help me out this Christmas because it is going to be a difficult New Year for my friends. Anything that can help them through this will be much appreciated.

P.S. I’d rather keep this off Facebook/Twitter etc. at the moment because I want it to be a surprise.

52 weeks of happy 7/52

IMG_6262I’m a little bit behind this week. Blame half term.

This time last week it was Shrove Tuesday, the day for pancakes! This year we shared it with friends who are new to the tradition. All the children had a go at flipping a pancake (under supervision of course), even Babykins. Some of them even managed to get their pancake to turn over and land in the pan again – happy days. We ate ours with lemon and sugar, golden syrup, chocolate sauce, cheese and ham and later, the grown ups had mushrooms in a milky sauce too. Note to self – pancakes are better when served for dessert only.

IMG_6311We’ve had some beautiful skies this week. The above was a sunset and below is a sunrise. Both taken with my iphone and jazzed up a bit with instagram.

Both these skyscapes predicted the weather correctly: ‘Red sky at night, shepherds delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning’. The clear delicate, pinky sunset led to a cold frosty night and sunny morning. The fiery sunrise led to a cold day with lots of snow showers. Brrrr. Both the colours in the sky and the fact that I could get it right as an amateur meteorologist made me happy this week.

IMG_6313Who wouldn’t be happy at the sight of snowdrops? What made these special was being presented with them by my little Babykins and then watching him carefully put them in the old jam jar vase. It reminded me of his antics this time last year.

IMG_6317This last picture is a bit of a strange one. These jeans belong to my son but he won’t be wearing them. Despite the fact that they were clearly a waste of money, that makes me happy.

They are far too big around the waist.

I bought them a long time ago when he was still taking steroids monthly as part of his treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Plus size jeans are hard to come by so when I found some, I bought the next size too. I just didn’t realise how much those monthly steroid courses were affecting his build (to see what steroids can do click here). Now he’s been steroid free for well over a year and is looking more like a classic 7 year old boy – skinny. Today I took them out of his wardrobe and packed them away to sell at a later date. Happy, happy, happy to be further and further away from cancer.