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Hugs from Henry

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Posted by Ann Ball on 9th May 2019

Hugs From Henry provides invaluable support to families who receive the tragic diagnosis of childhood cancer, providing emotional support, making a memory and helping families keep in touch, giving them a place to turn.

Elsbeth explained that Henry had just turned three when he became unwell, he was complaining of leg pain and a fever. Initially the doctors thought it was a virus, however, he was limping and had a lump on his head. The story shows the importance of trusting your instincts, as Henry’s parents knew something was not right and demanded medical attention, initially from GPs, the emergency department and finally the out of hours doctors service. Henry was soon seen by a paediatrician who listened to their concerns. Henry then had a CT scan suspecting a delayed concussion but this soon led to Henry being rushed 120 miles away to Bristol with a suspected fractured skull.

The following morning the bad news became worse and they were told that Henry had multiple tumours in his head, a crumbled vertebra and an eroded rib. Henry had cancer in his liver, all his bones apart from his feet and hands, bone marrow and a large tumour to his left adrenal gland. After a biopsy to determine the tumours genetics they were told Henry had neuroblastoma.

Henry underwent 70-80 days of initial chemotherapy, stem cell harvest, major surgery, high dose chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and antibody treatment with randomised interleukin 2 injections.

Henry is now nine years old having completed treatment, and is able to do most of the things a normal little boy can do. He attends primary school, he enjoys playing with his friends, being creative and playing at the beach. Despite the odds, Henry has recently been told that he is in remission.

The focus of the charity is to continue to support families affected by rare childhood cancer in the Plymouth area, and they have gone from strength to strength with their incredible fundraising efforts leading to the recent purchase of a Cornish respite home. The aim is to give families time together, away from hospitals and treatment, providing time out whether a diagnosis has been received, treatment is on-going, or for those families who have lost their child to childhood cancer.

Elsbeth clearly recalled how difficult it was spending Henry’s early years in hospital, initially not coming home from Bristol for several months. The impact on the entire family is immeasurable, and the ability for the charity to support families by providing them with the quality time together, or to grieve and remember their little ones, is so important.

Elsbeth explained:
“Enduring the lengthy time of treatment for cancer can take its toll on all of the family, from the child undergoing isolating and difficult treatments to parents and siblings being separated for sometimes months at a time. Hugs from Henry wanted to provide families with quality time away to recover and to spend time together to make new memories. The home will be designed to provide families with a relaxing break in the heart of the Cornish countryside, with everything they need on site.”

Hugs from Henry is entirely reliant on personal donations, alongside their charity shop in Plymstock. The respite home required renovation but is placed in a beautiful, quaint and quiet location.

Elsbeth explained:
“Childhood cancer can happen to anyone and unlike adult cancers factors such as weight, smoking and lifestyle do not cause the cancers in children. Treatments are often long and side effects from these can be lifelong as they effect the body as the child grows into adults.”

We are proud to support this ambitious and invaluable local charity and look forward to providing long term and continuing relationship to ensure their goals can be met, and families across Plymouth receive the much-needed support.

At Wolferstans we have been instructed by families who have been affected by a delay in diagnosis of childhood cancer. We have provided support and advice during a difficult time and understand the full impact that the disease can have in terms of the physical challenges, as well as the emotional and financial strain.

If you or any members of your family have been a delay in diagnosis of any form of cancer, and you would like to receive free independent legal advice, without any obligation, enquire today.