Six-year-old Mia Preston, of Stanton spends Christmas on Rainbow Ward after finishing chemotherapy
A six-year-old’s joy at finishing a gruelling two-and-a-half years’ chemotherapy treatment was dashed when she had to return to hospital the following day.
Mia Preston, of Stanton, rang the bell to mark the end of chemotherapy sat Addenbrooke’s Hospital on December 17, but was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital’s Rainbow Ward on December 18, after falling ill with a virus.
Following IV antibiotics, a blood transfusion and medication to support her immune system, Mia returned home on December 28.
The family – mum Emma, dad Andy and three-year-old sister Keira – spent Christmas day on the ward, where staff set up a room with a Christmas tree, presents and set a table so they could enjoy a roast dinner together.
“Santa came to see the girls, so did the fire brigade, police and Ipswich Town Football Club," said Emma.
“The ward staff are just amazing. They were trying so hard to make the day nice for us. They went far beyond their job. They made it a lovely day and we cannot thank them enough.
The girls received extra presents thanks to generous donations, which ‘went down well’ according to Emma.
“Now Mia is getting back to her chatty self, which is a relief,” said Emma, adding that Mia had ‘coped brilliantly’ throughout her illness.
The youngster was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a form of blood cancer, shortly after her fourth birthday in August 2017.
Subsequent chemotherapy treatment caused Mia to lose her appetite and weight, while she also struggled to walk at one stage and lost her hair.
“I look back at pictures now and you forget how thin she was,” said Emma.
“I found it really hard when her hair fell out. I was brushing it and it was coming out in clumps. I shaved my hair so I looked like her, so we were both bald together.”
As part of Mia’s treatment she had an MRD test, which lowers the risk of relapse. Children with Cancer UK was instrumental in funding research that led to the development of the test.
The next step in Mia’s journey is an operation to remove a port-a-cath, which was fitted for her chemotherapy, next month.
“When Mia rang the bell we were pleased, but it’s not really the end of treatment for us as parents,” said Emma.
“I do feel really positive and happy, but there is still that anxious feeling of not being able to completely relax and I worry that it will come back. I am only now dealing with my emotions – I had to get Mia through it and it is now that it has hit me.
“We want to get back to normality, but our normal was hospital. I don’t really remember life before.”
More by this authorCamille Berriman