‘It’s like I’ve had 95 stone lifted off me’
Mum and dad’s joy as son, 4, is given the all-clear after years of tears and heartache
It is a moment Whitney Watson will never forget.
For over 1,000 days, with only a few breaks, she watched her son Bobby McGregor go through chemotherapy to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
In that time there has been numerous other procedures, including countless lumbar punctures and blood transfusions.
But last week – on Tuesday, June 21 – she was given the news she had longed to hear: four-yearold Bobby was cancer- free and being taken off treatment.
“When the professor told us they were stopping the chemo I burst into tears,” Whitney says. “It felt like someone had lifted 95 stone off me.”
It was a far cry from another date etched in 26-year-old Whitney’s mind.
On March 6, 2014, Bobby was taken to hospital with suspected meningitis.
His parents, Whitney and Bobby’s dad, Robert McGregor, 30, could barely believe what happened next.
“He had a lot of problems as a baby,” says Whitney. “He had issues with his bowels. We had to take him to hospital one day because he was very unsettled.
“He had wee red spots all over his body and we thought he had meningitis. The doctors said there was something not quite right with his blood.
“Within half an hour they came and said ‘There’s no easy way to say this but Bobby has leukaemia’. He was so unwell and had to be treated right away. We were only in the hospital for an hour and he was being treated, it was crazy.”
The nightmare was just starting for Bobby, who lost all his hair after only two weeks, and his family.
Whitney, who stays in Halfway with her son, recalls: “It was really intensive treatment for 10 weeks. He was getting chemo three times a day and steroids, which meant he put on so much weight he could barely move, and he suffered from mood swings. He also had numerous blood transfusions.”
After that, Bobby settled into what is known as maintenance treatment. But while it was not as intensive as the first few weeks, it was still hugely challenging to the young lad.
Bobby required chemo every single day, administered orally by his mother most nights. Every two weeks he was required to go into hospital to have it administered through IV and receive steroids.
Right through that period, Bobby’s family were
by his side, always worrying that he may relapse. “It’s been awful to be honest,” Whitney says. “I never knew if he would pull through. “At the very start we were ill with worry. In fact, one of my friends reminded me that I phoned her saying I just couldn’t go through it. “But we have done it as a family. “You sit there and your baby is full of drugs, he’s not the wee baby you know. He’s having blood transfusions and you can’t touch him for fear of covering him in bruises. You can’t even change his nappy because his bones are so brittle. “Chemo is an amazing drug but it’s basically poison. It breaks down the good cells as well as the bad ones. “The weeks he got his steroids were pretty tough. He isn’t himself, the drugs take over his body and he had mood swings.” The treatment shattered Bobby’s immune system, meaning he could not do many of the normal things young children can. But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Bobby loves superheroes and showed himself to be every bit as strong as he fought the disease. The doctors had Bobby scheduled to stop treatment next month but decided to stop sooner because of how sick the chemo was making him. It came as an unexpected shock to beautician Whitney and taxi driver Robert. “Since Christmas he has been really poorly because of the chemo,” Whitney says. “His body is trying to build up his immune system but the chemo brings it all back down. “If he got a temperature he had to go to hospital and go on IV drugs. “A few weeks ago he got pneumonia in his left lung and was in hospital for a few days getting all sorts of antibiotics. He was septic and they had to stop his chemo. I actually thought he was going to relapse. “That’s always in the back of your mind when you go through something like this. “We went to hospital as he was booked in for his final lumbar puncture and bone marrow treatment. But he still had three weeks of chemo left. “The consultant came in and said they were going to finish treatment. He’s had 167 weeks of treatment so three weeks wasn’t going to make much difference. “It was so exciting, I was crying, I couldn’t believe it. “‘All clear’, I swear you could have knocked me over. I’m the proudest mum in the world. He’s been so brave, every step of the way. Despite everything he’s been through he’s always smiled.” This will be a new start for Bobby, Whitney and Robert. Bobby had been due to start Park View Primary this August but Whitney has decided to keep him back a year to give him time to just enjoy being a normal child. “I want him to have time just being a little boy,” Whitney says. “We can go on holidays and he can now go into the soft play, which he couldn’t previously because of the air conditioning. “I can’t wait to spend time with him just being a wee boy, he was out playing with his pals yesterday. Before I would be so paranoid but he’s just loving life now. He’s the happiest wee boy in the world.” The family have been inundated with messages of support from many places including Ireland and the USA. Bobby’s story was shared on the All About Cambuslang Facebook page last week and was ‘liked’ by nearly 1,000 people. As well as thanking them, Whitney was keen to pay tribute to Professor Gibson at Glasgow Children’s Hospital. She said: “We can’t thank the professor enough, she has been unreal and deserves so much credit. “We’re all buzzing, we just can’t believe it.”
Big pals Bobby’s dad Robert lays a loving smacker on his brave son
Battler Bobby was only one when he was diagnosed with cancer but has fought and beaten the disease
Thumbs up Bobby and mum Whitney are overjoyed at the news that the youngster has beaten cancer after three long years of hospitals and treatment
Staying strong Bobby and Whitney share a joke during one of his hospital visits
Play time Bobby can now start living a normal life