Daniel’s and our story begins in the Spring of ’94
Daniel was just past his nineteenth birthday, and had been a typical young person, bursting with energy, popular with all, full of fun, and with the entire world at his feet! Unfortunately all this was to change
Daniel was admitted to the Adult Leukaemia Unit at Christie Hospital, Manchester at six-o-clock in the afternoon of March 24th 1994. He was very frightened, as Joyce and I were traumatised, one might say. Daniel had contracted a particularly vicious strain of acute Myloid Leukaemia. We all knew then, that our world had changed – forever! Daniel was about to become a warrior, with a tremendous battle ahead of him.
Joyce and I soon discovered that Leukaemia is the most insidious of all cancers, it cannot be seen, it cannot be touched, it cannot be operated on. But, it can be treated and forced into remission. In this knowledge, lay our hope for Daniel’s future. A very slim chance, but one which we had to ride for all it was worth.
In children the recovery rate is good, nearly seventy percent get better! Adults however are not quite so fortunate, with a survival rate of just over thirty percent. It is estimated that one person in one hundred thousand contracts Leukaemia. As a rough guide that is one person in every two full houses at Old Trafford.
Leukaemia has no boundaries, it does not discriminate, it has no respect for age, sex, fitness, colour or creed. Absolutely anyone can be struck down by this silent and aggressive invader. To actually die of Leukaemia itself is uncommon, but patients lose their inbuilt natural defence system, and are therefore prone to contracting very minor ailments, some of which you or I may never be aware of due to our fully functional defence systems which wipe them out at source. Unfortunately, to a Leukaemic, a common cold is a potential killer. Leukaemia is a truly dangerous condition, which is so elusive to treatment that its seriousness cannot be overstated. The treatment is ferocious, and in addition to the indignity of hair loss, and the almost constant vomiting, there is also the knowledge that the treatment itself may result in damage to any of the major organs.
Chemotherapy, and to a lesser extent Radiotherapy, are the main weapons in the arsenal used to combat the condition. Of course, there are many drugs which can be used to augment the treatment or to pacify the vile side effects.
Daniel had his fare share of all of these, and had a name for not complaining that made us incredibly proud of him. He gave his nurses his body and his trust and allowed them to get on with what they had to do. This was Daniel’s way, and in truth the only way for him!
Daniel underwent many treatments in this unit, and the care and love shown to him and also Joyce and I will never be forgotten. In fact it is something which will always be remembered with warmth and tenderness by both of us.
As Daniel’s stem cell treatment failed and the Leukaemia returned, it was determined that he needed a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. The Bone Marrow transplant Unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children is a world leader in this specialised field, and the decision to proceed was taken by all of us. Realistically there was no other option!
Once again, the fears returned, but they were tempered by a new confidence, especially as four suitable donors, one of them a near perfect match had been found very quickly.
So, full of hope, Danny made the trip south. Unfortunately and sadly it was the last trip he ever made. One week after the transplant, Daniel died of a fungal infection of his liver and lungs, the transplant never got the chance to get established. It was only fourteen months after diagnosis and he was just twenty years old. The care, love and genuine sorrow of the B.M.T.U. Bristol staff is something else that we will never forget. We made a promise to ourselves that we would help them, and were able to give them a donation of £2000 in early ’96; enough to buy three blood saturation monitors.