Natalie’s story

In October 2009 our world of normality was shattered when Natalie was diagnosed with a rare form of Liver Cancer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

A programme of Chemotherapy was embarked on followed by a major operation in Leeds to remove the tumour and take away the damaged part of her liver. By the summer of 2010 it appeared that Natalie had made a full recovery and she started secondary school that September.

Sadly tests revealed that the cancer had returned in the October of that year. The devastating blow was that it had reappeared in a secondary form in her lungs and that the diagnosis was terminal. Natalie was put on a form of drug therapy which worked for a while but from April 2011 onwards no further treatment was available. Natalie was still leading a full, productive and happy life and went on a drug trial in the summer. Having had 2 courses of radiotherapy at Weston Park in the Autumn, Natalie had a good Christmas and started school in the New Year. However after 2 weeks it was clear that she could no longer carry on at school and that she would need to be cared for at home.

At this point Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice was suggested by Natalie’s doctor at the hospital and we (parents Peter and Karen) visited without Natalie to have a look with some apprehension. Any worries were quickly put to one side with the warm welcome and the relaxed feel of the place – totally different to a hospital. It was agreed with Natalie that we would go twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, and she loved it. She enjoyed meeting the staff and spent much of her time in the craft room producing a wide range of items for fun and presents. There are no rights and wrongs at Bluebell Wood – Natalie did what she wanted to do and it gave her a rest from her tiresome parents who enjoyed the easy feel of the lounge and the walks nearby. Another thing is that the food is brilliant and mealtimes are most enjoyable.

The staff were wonderful to Natalie and made the 7 weeks she attended as pleasurable as possible despite her declining health. She was able to take part in wheelchair dancing, a helicopter ride and met unusual animals.

Events sadly took their course and on Feb 29th Natalie deteriorated rapidly at home and it was without a moment’s hesitation that Bluebell Wood was contacted to admit Natalie. With the support of the Community Nurse, she was made comfortable in her own bedroom and assigned her own care team. Natalie died early the following morning surrounded by love and care, and was looked after superbly overnight. The team helped us in the hours following making the initial arrangements and explaining what needed to be done. At every stage it felt like a caring partnership.

Thank you Bluebell Wood for being there when we needed you.