On the 20th of June 2006 my son, Harrison, announced his arrival into the world with a very strong set of lungs on him and he changed our world forever. Life for us was perfect; we couldn't have asked for more, my 5 year old daughter doted on her baby brother. Little did we know that just 18 months later we would be saying goodbye to him.
In August 2007, Harrison woke up and had lost the use of his left arm. After several trips to our local hospital and GP, we were finally referred to a specialist who took one look at Harrison and transferred us to the care of the Oncology department at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). 14 days after being admitted to GOSH, we were told that Harrison had cancer and it was an extremely rare form. There wasn't much information on it, no statistics to give us and no other parent who we could talk to at the time. Harrison was diagnosed with an Extracranial Rhabdoid Tumour. What we did know was that this was a very aggressive form of cancer; we had seen for ourselves just how quickly his tumour had grown in his shoulder and neck. Harrison was started on his chemo plan straight away. The days were tough to watch our baby going through the pain and discomfort, knowing there was nothing we could do.
GOSH were fantastic. Although Harrison was in pain and discomfort throughout his chemo, he always had a smile and he always managed to make us laugh. For someone so small, he had so much strength and courage and always made sure things were done his way! As his consultant said to me many times “it's Harrison's way or no way!"
Harrison gave it his all throughout his treatment and at one stage we were given hope that he might beat this horrible disease. We were told that Harrison's tumour had shrunk by over 50% and now we could prepare for surgery. The plan was for Harrison to have another round of chemo and then wait for his body to recover and then have surgery; it was hopeful that Harrison would be home for Christmas.
Sadly 2 weeks later Harrison took a turn for the worst and caught an infection. He never got to have that last round of chemo. Harrison deteriorated so much in such a short space of time. A scan showed that the cancer had spread to his brain. Harrison suffered a cardiac arrest and for an hour the team fought to save him, he was rushed into emergency brain surgery to relieve some of the pressure on his brain. Whilst Harrison was in surgery, his consultant explained that unfortunately there was nothing more they could do. If he survived the surgery and woke up we would be looking at a matter of weeks before he died, if Harrison didn't wake up from surgery we were looking at days.
Harrison made it through surgery and was taken into intensive care but sadly he never woke up. On the 11th December 2007 we switched Harrison's ventilator off. Harrison wasn't willing to give up his fight. He continued to breath on his own for 1 hr and 22 minutes. He took his last breath with all his family around him.
GOSH had done so much for Harrison and us, his family. They shared all our highs and lows, they laughed with us and they cried with us. They reassured us on the many long waits we had while Harrison was having a test or surgery. They allowed us to look back on our time at GOSH with happy memories and not anger. We know that every member of staff who looked after Harrison gave 110%, they all cared about him and they all wanted him to beat the cancer.
I vowed that I wouldn't let my son's death be for nothing, so every year since Harrison left us I have raised money for GOSH as close to Harrison's birthday as I possibly can. The Hugs for Harrison family fun days will see his family come together to celebrate his short life and to raise lots of money for GOSH. It is a truly remarkable organisation that needs the support of us for the staff to be able to continue the fantastic work they day on a day to day basis. Without GOSH, who knows where we would be today.
Laura, Harrisons mum
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) opened its doors at 49 Great Ormond Street on Valentine's Day 1852 with 10 beds. It has since become one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals, housing the widest range of specialists under one roof.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity raises money to enable the hospital to provide world class care and to pioneer new treatments and cures for childhood illnesses. With over 240,000 patient visits every year, we need your support to help us give hope to our young patients and their families. We face an incredible task – to raise over £50 million every year to remain at the forefront of paediatric medicine. We would like to thank all of our supporters who give generously to us throughout the year – your donations are critical to the work we do for sick children.
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