Cameron's recovery from t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

13 April 2017

In early 2016, a full five years after finishing treatment for non Hodgkin lymphoma, Cameron’s mum, Elaine, felt unusual lumps on his neck. Cameron was quickly diagnosed with a form of leukaemia and his family were told that a blood stem cell donation from a matching donor would be his best hope of survival.

Elaine has told Cameron’s story and what his blood stem cell transplant has meant for them as a family:

Cameron after his blood stem cell donation, in recovery from t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

“In November 2008, when Cameron was just two and a half years old, and his baby brother Dominic was just a few weeks old, he became unwell. He had swollen glands and was generally lethargic. After having been fobbed off by our GPs and various doctors, we demanded a chest X-ray as we felt it had been dragging on too long. Thankfully, someone finally took notice and Cameron was rushed into hospital with suspected pneumonia.

He was intubated that same night and rushed to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). He was hours from death. The amazing team there put him on a special ventilator.

We were given the devastating news that he had cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, to be precise. It is a cancer of the lymphatic system and very rare in a child so young. Then followed intensive chemotherapy. His treatment lasted for two and a half years. Life was good.

Cameron aged 2, after starting treatment for non Hodgkin lymphoma

Skip forward to Cameron’s five year end of treatment appointment. We were celebrating Dom's seventh birthday at Legoland when I felt lumps in Cameron’s neck. A cold chill ran through me.

I didn't mess around, I went straight to his consultant who kindly agreed to see us. He had a chest X-ray.

It was back.

This time it presented as T-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The only treatment now was a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

Cameron, after his blood cancer returned five years after originally finishing his treatment

He began a gruelling intensive course of chemo with steroids until he was back in remission. We then had to locate a donor. Something you never even think about.

We were very fortunate that a donor was found. A German lady, aged 22. We were very excited. And scared.

To prepare for a blood stem cell transplant, Cameron’s whole blood system was literally wiped out. Chemo, and full body radiotherapy to destroy all of his existing cells. This made him extremely vulnerable to even the slightest infection.

Cameron's last day of chemo

We were put in isolation and not even his brother was allowed to see him. He received his donated blood stem cells in early spring 2016. It was a very tough few months that followed. He suffered with graft versus host disease (GVHD) and his kidneys were struggling. Once again though, Cameron proved to us that he is a fighter and showed more strength of character (both good and bad!) than I've ever seen.

It's now been over a year since Cameron’s blood stem cell transplant and he is going from strength to strength!

We could never thank our donor enough and I hope that one day we will be in touch.

Elaine – Cameron’s mum

Cameron after his Hickman line was removed

Are you inspired by Cameron’s story and would like to go on standby to save the life of someone like him? If you are in good health and aged between 17 and 55, you can register as a potential blood stem cell donor too.

If you are not eligible, or have already registered with Anthony Nolan, NHS Blood & Transplant or the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, check out some more ways you can get involved in the fight against blood cancer.