The prom­ise that broke me but I kept it

Gemma Dodsworth, 32, from Not­ting­ham, faced los­ing her son to can­cer, but she had to keep her word...

Pick Me Up! Special - - News -

All of my chil­dren were pre­cious to me, but the bond I had with my first born was some­thing truly spe­cial. It had just been me and Tay­lor, 11, for four years be­fore Har­ley, seven, and Harper, two, came into the world.

Tay­lor was such a dream child.

He was older than his years, po­lite and kind.

I never had to worry about him get­ting into trou­ble and knew when he said that he wanted to be in com­put­ers, that he’d make it hap­pen.

We were close enough to be hon­est with each other, too.

‘You can’t re­ally be think­ing about call­ing her Tiger Lily,’ he said, as he rubbed my grow­ing baby bump. ‘Poor kid!’

‘I like it!’ I laughed, giv­ing him a play­ful shove.

But Tay­lor was in­sis­tent it wasn’t right and he even had a bet­ter idea.

‘What about Tia?’ he said. I said it over in my head. ‘I like it,’ I smiled. ‘You’re on.’ ‘Prom­ise?’ he said. Look­ing into his brown eyes, my heart was break­ing.

‘I prom­ise,’ I whis­pered, un­able to stop a tear rolling down my face.

‘No more tears, Mum,’ he scolded, ‘I’ll be back home be­fore you know it.’ I smiled. ‘Of course you will be,’ I said, fuss­ing around his hospi­tal bed.

Not hav­ing Tay­lor at home was like miss­ing a part of me.

I prayed the night­mare we were in would be over soon.

It had started days be­fore Christ­mas, when Tay­lor came home from school with a vi­ral in­fec­tion.

He just wasn’t him­self as he opened presents and pushed his food around.

On Box­ing Day, as we headed out to try his new drone, he com­plained of cramps in his legs and I no­ticed he was strug­gling to breathe. Tay­lor never made a fuss, so alarm bells were ring­ing.

I took him straight to A&E at Ilke­ston Hospi­tal.

It was a re­lief when they told us it was ton­sil­li­tis and gave him a 10-day course of an­tibi­otics.

But they didn’t work, and the pain moved to his chest.

Des­per­ate, I took him back to the hospi­tal where we were told it was glan­du­lar fever.

But in Jan­uary, doc­tors no­ticed how pale he was and re­ferred him to Not­ting­ham Queen’s Med­i­cal Cen­tre for blood tests.

My in­stinct told me some­thing was very wrong – and I was right. Tay­lor had leukaemia. Ev­ery par­ent’s worst night­mare. I had re­acted with tears and anger – but when the con­sul­tant told Tay­lor, all he wanted to do was re­as­sure me. ‘Don’t worry, Mum,’ he said. ‘I’ll get through this.’ My brave boy was stronger than I’d given him credit for, and his courage shone from the very start of his treat­ment.

Tay­lor started chemo­ther­apy and never com­plained once.

He al­ways wore a smile and never shed a tear about his di­ag­no­sis.

In­stead of feel­ing sorry for him­self, he made friends with the other kids in the ward and made them feel bet­ter.

The doc­tors and nurses loved how he would ask ques­tions about his treat­ment with his usual ma­tu­rity.

‘What a po­lite boy,’ they would say to me. ‘He’s so pos­i­tive.’ I was

It was ev­ery par­ent’s night­mare

burst­ing with pride and when I was by my boy’s side, his op­ti­mism was in­fec­tious.

But back at home, with my part­ner Luke, 39, I would crum­ble. ‘This is so un­fair,’ I’d cry. ‘He should be out­side en­joy­ing his child­hood – not fight­ing can­cer.’

I would have taken it all away from him in a heart­beat if I could.

He was re­spond­ing well to treat­ment and doc­tors were con­fi­dent about his out­look.

‘I’m go­ing to beat this, Mum,’ he told me with his beam­ing smile. And I had ev­ery faith he would. Tay­lor had the whole fam­ily make up ‘Team Doddy’ t-shirts and wrist­bands, which played on our sur­name, Dodsworth.

He didn’t shy away from what he was go­ing for, he faced it head on.

Af­ter say­ing he was wor­ried about los­ing his hair in clumps, I walked in one day to find he’d shaved it off. ‘Told you I’d do it,’ he winked. That was my boy. Step­ping up to the chal­lenges he was go­ing through.

Even though I was fight­ing back tears at the sight of my son look­ing like a can­cer pa­tient, I was so over­whelmed with his spirit.

Af­ter two weeks of chemo, Tay­lor was al­lowed home for a few days be­fore em­bark­ing on an­other six months of treat­ment. He needed mor­phine, but watch­ing him tuck into a Chi­nese take­away in the com­fort of our home was just won­der­ful.

Later that night, Tay­lor com­plained of a pain in his left leg and the mor­phine wasn’t help­ing.

By the time he was taken back to hospi­tal, his up­per leg was so swollen and he looked very un­well.

Doc­tors gave him an MRI scan and put him on oxy­gen back on the ward.

I could feel panic ris­ing in my chest…

Then a crash team came charg­ing in and doc­tors started to pump blood into my boy.

‘He has an in­ter­nal bleed,’ they ex­plained. ‘We’ll need to put him in an in­duced coma to find where it is. He’s very poorly.’ I squeezed Tay­lor’s hand. ‘I love you,’ I smiled, try­ing not to show him how scared I was.

‘I love you back,’ he said, with­out a hint of fear on his face.

As he was whisked away, I felt my heart phys­i­cally ache.

Fam­ily joined me as I waited for news – and it wasn’t good.

Sur­geons had to cut the main artery in his leg to stop the bleed­ing.

Tay­lor suf­fered two car­diac ar­rests dur­ing the op­er­a­tion and a cat­a­strophic haem­or­rhage.

As he was brought to in­ten­sive care, I rushed to his side.

My boy was cov­ered in bruises and wires, and staff were strug­gling to get him to breathe on a ven­ti­la­tor.

They fought to save him, but I knew we were los­ing my sol­dier. His dad, my mum and step­dad, hud­dled round his bed. I was hold­ing Tay­lor’s hand as he took his

last breath. It was 2.05am

on 5 Fe­bru­ary. Tay­lor was just 11. As I leaned over to kiss him good­bye, I felt my world come crash­ing down around me. ‘I love you,’ I whis­pered. ‘And don’t worry, we’ll call your lit­tle sis­ter Tia, just like you wanted.’ Then the tears started and I thought they would never stop. The doc­tors said that he’d been through so much that his heart had just stopped. The whole med­i­cal team were ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated. Tay­lor had touched so many lives. Com­pletely numb, I don’t

know how I got through the days.

I con­soled my­self that Tay­lor was with his grandad, who had also died of can­cer.

Harper was too young to un­der­stand, but Har­ley knew her brother was with the an­gels.

At the fu­neral, we made it a cel­e­bra­tion of Tay­lor’s life with fire­works and face paint­ing.

He was car­ried on a white horse­drawn car­riage and we all wore orange Team Doddy t-shirts.

Know­ing it’s what he would have wanted, I’ve since set up a Face­book page in Tay­lor’s hon­our to raise funds for the hospi­tal who fought so hard to save him.

I can’t thank them enough for mak­ing his last days so pos­i­tive.

On May 21st, I gave birth to Tia Wil­low Tay­lor.

Tia was the name Tay­lor chose, and Wil­low was the name of the ward he was on. Th­ese days, Har­ley, Harper and

baby Tia are the rea­sons I wake up ev­ery morn­ing.

They will all grow up know­ing

what an amaz­ing big brother they have look­ing down on them with that huge smile. Los­ing Tay­lor will al­ways be the

great­est tragedy of my life, but hav­ing had him for 11 pre­cious years makes me the luck­i­est mum in the world.

I would have taken it from him in a heart­beat

Tay­lor never com­plained once He just wanted to make peo­ple happy

A per­fect big brother The kids keep me go­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.