When he was just four years old, Laughlin fought a brain tumour.
In mid-2011, just before he moved from nursery to primary school, Laughlin started to wobble, literally. Add excruciating, irregular headaches and we found ourselves in the local hospital, hearing the dreaded words that an emergency MRI of our eldest, 4 year old son, had identified a golf-ball sized tumour at the back of his head. A nasty, malignant Medulloblastoma, that can spread with speed across the brain and spine. Cue blue-light to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and 8 hours of emergency surgery the following day, followed by 30 daily doses of radiotherapy and a year of varied chemotherapy. Just over a year later he completed his treatment.
But not so the Cancer. We were forced to play with the fire of toxic chemotherapy and radiation, and while you can accept a few scaldings - hearing loss, an indefinable impact on learning, and isolation among other physical and emotional blisters – you never expect spontaneous combustion. Around 5 months out of treatment his blood counts dipped and remained constantly suppressed. Initial tests indicated that this might just be suppression of his marrow by the ‘kissing disease’ as he had the glandular fever virus active in his blood. 6+ months with no improvement led to repeat tests – which in November 2013 confirmed that, just as we had rats in our shed, he had rats in his blood. His previous treatment had caused a new Cancer – secondary AML leukaemia.
Nasty at the best of times, but all the more so when chromosomes have been altered in the marrow blasts. No way forwards without wiping out the old marrow and replacing it via new donor stem cells. And so the worldwide hunt for his Blood Twin began.
While receiving his own treatment, Laughlin came up with the idea of creating special boxes full of fun activities and craft materials for other children staying at Great Ormond Street Hospital. In September 2014, Laughlin was nominated for the Most Inspirational Child Award at the WellChild Awards and he won.
Dig-loving; Treasure finding; Spaniel cuddling; Lego collecting; Early rising; Roman villa discovering; Street dancing; Eye-crossing; Margarita scoffing; Lord of the Rings fixating; Scooby mystery solving; Pottermaniac; Dark side identifying; Funny voice finding;
still-won’t-get-out-of-bed-by-himself; Language loving; Laughlin.