“I was alarmed because she had a lump in her side and it didn’t make sense, the lump was very abnormal – it was in a strange place. She wasn’t sitting up yet so it was a very strange lump to have,’ says Anjna. “It all accelerated very quickly. One morning she came up with little red freckles and bruises on her skin, along with other lumps. It alarmed me, and we were told to go to hospital right away. We took her to the children’s ward at our local hospital and they did a few observations and asked what felt like a million questions… I could feel something wasn’t right.”
Anjna couldn’t believe how quickly the diagnosis came from there. “They had to take some blood from her which was a horrific experience to have to take blood from a child, and they had to put a cannula in straight away which on a seven-month child is just shocking to experience. They didn’t even wait for the blood results… the child cancer specialist doctor came straight away and told me… her words were …I am very confident this is a child cancer.”
Anjna struggled to accept the reality of what was happening to her family. “It didn’t really register as it can’t happen to a child. From that moment I felt like I’d entered a wind tunnel, there’s just light and noise and observations, there’s doctors coming in and out, you’re looking at this child and you can’t believe what they’re saying. I had to tell Simon over the phone – he was in China on his last day before catching a flight back to the UK and those 24 hours before he arrived – it’s like a bomb went off in our lives.”
Amongst the shock and horror of the diagnosis, where Anjna and Simon might stay while Mia was treated didn’t even register. “You can’t believe any of this is true.” Anjna recalls. “That evening the blood results arrived. It was leukaemia.”Ronald McDonald House Charities UK’s home at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, kept Anjna, Simon and Mia as close as possible throughout her treatment so that Anjna and Simon didn’t miss a precious moment of their little girl’s life. “I’m so glad we got that help,” says Anjna. “I could just shout at everyone and say, please donate to that charity. We learned it would cost £25 a night for a family and we spent 240 odd nights there. All these donations made it possible for us. I just think, please, please give as much as you can because it’s life-changing for these people – no, it’s life-saving, for the families who are trying to be strong for their sick children.”
Today, Mia is 21 months old and loves to dance. “When the music comes on she just stops what she’s doing and throws her hands in the air,” smiles Simon. “Considering what she’s going through, she’s always smiling, people always comment on it, her smile just lights up the room. And I hope it continues to do that for the rest of her life.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities UK helped to keep Anjna, Simon and Mia together when they needed each other the most. You can pledge your support to help families like Mia’s or read more stories like Mia’s on our family blog.