In September 2011 my son, Rhys, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. My partner and I couldn’t believe what was happening. Rhys was only four and had to go straight into surgery to remove the tumour – it was terrifying, and from that moment our world was turned upside down.
Following the surgery, Rhys suffered a number of setbacks and infections, and had to have five more trips to surgery for different procedures. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but things did eventually improve, and when I look at him now I can’t believe everything he went through at such a young age. He looks like every other happy 10 year old, apart from the scar he’s been left with on the back of his head thanks to that first operation. He also has a condition called hydrocephalus and has a shunt in his head to help us relieve the pressure that this can cause.
The children at school ask him about his scar but he takes it all in his stride and is more than happy to talk about it. For comfort, he often carries his favourite toy monkey Geoff around with him, who also has a scar running down his head.
Rhys’ diagnosis completely turned our lives upside down. He was diagnosed in the November, so the festive period is a particularly difficult time for us. We were in hospital for about seven weeks, it was a huge disruption and we had to put everything on hold. That year, we got Rhys home a week before Christmas, and it was the most unprepared we had ever been. But planning for celebrations really wasn’t our priority. Getting Rhys better was at the top of our list.
Since then, Rhys has an annual MRI scan just before Christmas. It’s not something we look forward to, and has become a very unwelcome addition to our December routine. It’s such a difficult time of year for us, as we usually receive the results very close to Christmas, and we can’t help but be reminded of everything he went through.
This is why we were so excited to be invited to a winter wonderland in summer party last week! It was a chance for us to enjoy…