A whole community rallies to help the hospital which saved the life of a young north Derbyshire cancer patient

The mum  of a schoolboy cancer patient from Dronfield is thanking the medical staff who have helped him since his diagnosis by fundraising to transform his ward.

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 6:46 pm

Nine-year-old Sam Hunt is half-way through treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Sam, together with his family and friends, has already raised more than £4,000 to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward.

His mum Liz described the treatment he has received as “fantastic” and has vowed to do all she can to help the ward.

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A whole community of her friends and family stepped forward to help.

in January 2018, Sam came home from school and told his Mum his arm was hurting. He was taken to his local hospital where it was initially thought he had fractured his arm, but an X-ray came back all-clear.

Sam was discharged but the pain continued and spread to his hip. After three further visits to his local A&E and a blood test, Sam was referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for further investigation. By the next day, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

The condition, which affects around 325 children in the UK every year, is caused by a genetic mutation which releases immature white blood cells into the blood stream. It progresses with speed, requiring immediate treatment.

Sam began a course of intense chemotherapy which lasted for the next seven months. He was admitted to the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, often for two-week spells at a time, due to the side-effects of the treatment. Following treatment, Sam was unable to walk for four months and required the use of a wheelchair for a further six months.

Although he is now able to have maintenance chemotherapy administered daily at home, he continues to return to hospital regularly and Sam’s family have been told he will continue treatment until April 2021.

Liz said: “The care is outstanding, but the facilities look a little tired. The only way to stay by Sam’s side was to sleep on a fold-out chair next to his bed.

“Experiences like this open up your mind to what others are going through - some patients are undergoing treatment for more than a year. It’s really nice to think of the money we’ve raised, if we can make it better for the next family that goes through this, it will be more than worth it.

“My colleagues came up with this great initiative to show their support to Sam and our family.” They organised a 5km sponsored walk last month with 160 people and a family fun day at Norton Country Club.

The Children’s Hospital Charity’s £2.75m appeal to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital would create private patient rooms with en-suite facilities, giving patients a place to make their own and space for a parent to sleep comfortably alongside them.

The ward treats children from babies through to 19-year-olds in South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire and even as far south as Northampton. The department is one of twenty principle treatment centres in the UK and also cares for patients who have other problems including bleeding and inherited disorders.

Under the plans, the ward footprint would be increased, with larger bed bays and more isolation rooms. It will also expand the space to play and more than double the space of the ward classroom.

As for Sam, he is now back at school, attending lessons when he feels able. His experience has changed his and his Mum’s outlook on his life.

Liz continued: “Sam always wanted to be a footballer, but now he wants to be a YouTuber. I’m no longer as concerned about his school grades as I once was - I just want him to be happy and healthy.”

Lucy Rathbone, Regional Fundraising Officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity, added: “It was really heart-warming to see so many people at his 5K sponsored walk, all turning out to show their support for Sam during this difficult time.

“The total raised in his honour is incredible and every penny raised will help to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for other children like Sam in the years to come.”

To find out how you can help build a better future for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, visit www.tchc.org.uk