Cleggs re­veal shock at son’s can­cer di­ag­no­sis

Fif­teen-year-old now in re­mis­sion af­ter treat­ment Ex-Lib Dem leader and wife re­veal cop­ing strat­egy

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Press As­so­ci­a­tion Miriam González Durán­tez and her hus­band, Nick Clegg, talk about their son’s can­cer treat­ment on ITV’s Lor­raine Kelly show Pho­to­graph: Ken McKay/ITV/ Rex/Shutterstock

The mo­ment Nick Clegg and his wife had to tell their el­dest son he had blood can­cer was one of the “tough­est things” for the fam­ily, Miriam González Durán­tez has said.

González Durán­tez and her hus­band, the for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter, told ITV’s Lor­raine Kelly how their son An­to­nio, now 15, was di­ag­nosed with Hodgkin lym­phoma in Septem­ber last year.

He found a small, pain­less lump in his neck and tests found he also had lym­phoma across his chest.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing treat­ment on the NHS at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, in­clud­ing four monthly cy­cles of chemo­ther­apy and heavy steroids, he is in re­mis­sion hav­ing en­dured se­vere side-ef­fects in­clud­ing hair loss, vom­it­ing and fa­tigue.

His mother said: “We dealt with it by car­ry­ing on and try­ing to keep things as close to the rou­tine that we had be­fore­hand and also be­ing very open.

“The day that he was told, and I think that prob­a­bly us telling him, is one of the tough­est things that we have ever done, the fol­low­ing day he went to school, he stood up and he told ev­ery­body: ‘I have can­cer.’

“That’s the way he dealt with it but other chil­dren and other fam­i­lies deal with it in a dif­fer­ent way; you have to find your way.”

Clegg said: “His lym­phoma was all over his chest and his neck and he gets tested every three months, I think for a cou­ple of years, so there is al­ways a slight spike of anx­i­ety with us every three months but ba­si­cally he is on the road to re­cov­ery.

“In­ter­est­ingly the thing he was most con­cerned about was sort of fall­ing be­hind his class­mates. His anx­i­ety was more about keep­ing up with his class­mates, keep­ing up at school. So it was very im­pres­sive ac­tu­ally.”

He added that the cou­ple’s other chil­dren, Alberto and Miguel, had taken the news well.

“Once they heard from us that he will be OK – again they are just so, so prac­ti­cal – just ‘OK then,’” he said.

The cou­ple are rais­ing aware­ness of the char­ity Blood­wise, which launched a re­port yes­ter­day urg­ing more re­search into less toxic treat­ments for chil­dren with can­cer.

González Durán­tez said: “[With] chemo­ther­apy they poi­son your body so that you can get cured and it’s a shock to see it hap­pen. We do re­alise how in­cred­i­bly lucky we are both with the fact that the treat­ment has worked and how well he seems.”

The char­ity said blood can­cer is the most com­mon among chil­dren and young peo­ple, with more than 1,100 di­ag­nosed in the UK every year who are un­der 24.

Dr Alas­dair Rankin, di­rec­tor of re­search at Blood­wise, said: “The re­al­ity is that one in five chil­dren di­ag­nosed with the most com­mon type of leukaemia still do not sur­vive, and that those who do of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence dev­as­tat­ing side-ef­fects both dur­ing and af­ter treat­ment.

“This is sim­ply not good enough. We need to save every child’s life, make the treat­ment process much kinder and give them the life they would have had with­out can­cer.”

‘The day he was told, and us telling him, is one of the tough­est things that we have ever done’ Miriam González Durán­tez

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