"Our whole life just finished before our eyes": A family's struggle with cancer
PUBLISHED: 09:34 11 October 2012 | UPDATED: 09:42 11 October 2012
Nothing could have prepared Kelly Nightingale for the bombshell that her 11-year-old son Taylor had cancer.
“Our world fell apart the day we found out,” she said. “After watching our son suffer for weeks with chest pain and exhaustion, hospital scans showed his body was riddled with large tumours in his chest and belly.”
In the week before Christmas last year, while other families prepared for festive celebrations, Kelly, 41, and her partner Dave King, 33, learned that Taylor had Burkitts Lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system.
She said: “Our whole life just finished before our eyes. We all read these types of stories but you never think it will happen to your own child.
“Everything happened so fast – within one week Taylor was put on a ventilator in intensive care. He could not breathe on his own as the tumours were pushing down on his lungs.
“This made the whole thing even worse. We had no communication with him as he was so sedated.”
Christmas Day was spent with the family gathered around Taylor’s bed.
It was almost two months until Taylor came off the ventilator and was transferred to another hospital to start chemotherapy.
He lost more than three stone in weight and had no muscle strength.
Kelly watched as her usually bubbly and active son learned to walk for the second time in his life.
It was only when Taylor was able to go home for a while before his next set of treatment that she realised how nervous she was about caring for him.
“It really scared me – how could I look after him? He had a feeding tube in his nose and was on so much medication. What if I did something wrong and harmed him?”
However, she was reassured that a team of specialist nurses from chYps would come to their home on a regular basis.
EllenorLions Hospices have provided invaluable care for children and adults across north Kent for more than 25 years.
Nicola Dean is Taylor’s dedicated nurse from chYps who goes to visit him to change his dressings and take blood.
She has offered support not only to Taylor, but also to Kelly, Dave and their six-year-old daughter, Ashlee.
“There is a special bond and trust Taylor has with her and we all do as a family,” Kelly said.
“These nurses dedicate their time and expertise to these children and, when you are scared and feel vulnerable, they are there with a caring shoulder and help you find the strength to keep going.”
Taylor is now at the end of his treatment and the family are keeping their fingers crossed for the future.
“As a family we will now try to bring our lives back to some normality but we will never forget the number of people who have helped us get where we are today.
“It’s so important that people continue to give generously to chYps to ensure that other families can call upon them should the worst happen.
“We couldn’t have got through the last year without their help, care and support.”