Fatima was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) at the age of 3 in 2019.

*Name has been changed to protect anonymity .

“Fatima is a superstar! She’s beautiful and always happy!”

How would you describe Fatima?

Some of Fatima’s favourite things are lip balm and the mirror, the perfect companions for playing her favourite game of dress up!

“She’s always full of life and has so much enthusiasm in everything she does.”

What were the events leading up to diagnosis?

Leading up to the devastating diagnosis, Fatima’s mum noticed that she was getting bombarded with consecutive illnesses. Battling chickenpox, tonsilitis, a fractured knee and then noticing more worrying symptoms. Fatima began to show symptoms of skin discoloration and was losing weight. Fatima’s mum knew something was wrong; GPs initially believed she just had a weakened immune system from facing several common viral episodes.

“In 3 years, I had never taken Fatima to the GP for ill health, she was a healthy girl”.

Suddenly, I was having telephone consultations with the GP about every week knowing my child was not right”.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs Fatima was not well intensified, Fatima’s mother recalls an occasion where Fatima was playing in another room with her sister. Afterwards, she asked her elder sister, “Does Fatima play or does she just lie on the sofa the whole time?” The answer for many weeks was “She’s too tired to play” or “She just wants to lie down”. The nursery reported she seemed fine but perhaps had become less interested. During a Centre Parcs trip at the end of July 2019, she had slept for 3 days, and concern for her health reached a peak.
Upon returning from the family trip, Fatima was immediately taken to the GP for blood tests. That night at 8pm, they were called and told the results were abnormal and she needed to be taken to A&E for a repeat ASAP.

When we got the diagnosis – at first, I wanted to disappear into thin air.”

I felt like my world had collapsed”.

What was the impact upon your family after receiving the diagnosis? 

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is impacted, particularly siblings who have a close relationship with their affected brother or sister and who may be too young to fully understand the situation.

“My heart sank for my eldest daughter who was 8 at the time, knowing I will have to leave her to be at QMC for a while.”

Hospital treatment can require a parent to have long periods away from home, staying with their ill child in hospital. Fatima’s mother spent two weeks at QMC in a state of “reflection, pain, and absolute agony”. It was also difficult on her relationship with her husband who was able to remain at home and at work, “I became envious of my husband whose work allowed him to switch off for 8 hours”.

How did PASIC help your family?

PASIC supported Fatima’s family throughout, offering emotional, financial, and practical support. The family enjoyed cheering the goodies and booing the baddies at the panto, with PASIC supplying the tickets. They also enjoyed dressing up and dancing at the summer party, having a chance to have fun with other children and their families for a memorable night of fun.

“I took every opportunity to take on everything they were offering and it’s wonderful how much they provide for families.”

 PASIC were fundamental to giving us those moments of family time.”