A MOTHER’S world was turned upside down when her three-year-old boy was diagnosed with cancer and began a fight for his life.
Sarah Snape, 35, from Tarvin, saw her biggest nightmare become reality when son Ben was found to have five tumours in his abdomen.
Her little boy was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in March just two days after her step father’s funeral in what she describes as the ‘worst week of my life’.
But with Ben now on the road to recovery – completing his chemotherapy this week – Sarah feels it’s the right time to raise awareness of cancer in children and thank her fellow villagers for their support.
She told the Chronicle: “I was distraught. It hit us completely out of the blue.
“Things like this need to be found early. I don’t want to frighten people but there needs to be awareness.
“It’s something I feel really passionate about.”
Ironically, Sarah’s six-year-old daughter Kaitlyn-Mary had once brought cancer awareness cards home from Tarvin Primary School, and she admitted to being ‘quite paranoid’ when her children ever showed signs of illness.
However, despite a two-week period in which Ben had become more tired than usual and was sick on a couple of occasions, she couldn’t have imagined what was to come.
“It was nothing to make you think there was something seriously wrong,” explained Sarah.
It was when Ben was having a bath that Sarah noticed his stomach had become swollen and hard.
Initially, after visiting her GP on three occasions, it was thought that Ben may have been constipated or suffering from trapped wind.
It was when he was referred to the Countess of Chester Hospital that the true extent of the problem was uncovered.
A scan showed Ben had five tumours around the abdomen, including one on his liver and one on his kidney.
“It was horrible,” said Sarah. “My children are my life. One of the nurses took Ben out of the room to go and play and I just cried.”
Sarah believes the cancer awareness cards had spurred her on to get to the bottom of Ben’s problems.
This is why she is keen to raise awareness of cancer in children so parents can detect it at the earliest opportunity.
Ben underwent chemotherapy at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital and it has been an exhausting period for both him and his family.
“In the last three-and-a-half months we’ve probably been home a maximum of two weeks,” explained Sarah.
During his treatment Ben developed large ulcers in his mouth and throat meaning he was unable to eat or drink for ten days and had to stay in bed on a morphine drip.
Sarah said: “I had to sit beside him and say everything was going to be fine and then go to the loo for a cry. When I was in front of him I had to stay positive.”
One thing that has helped Sarah and her family has been the support of the village.
Sunshine Private Day Nursery, which Ben attends, raised money for them to go on a trip to Legoland, while Greenacre Garage hosted a fundraising car wash and bake sale.
“I love the community spirit here,” said Sarah. “I want to say thank you to everyone.”
For more information about cancer in children visit www.bechildcanceraware.org.