We kept asking . . . When will life get back to normal?’
HAVING to tell your 10-year-old child he has a large cancerous growth in his leg that will require months of painful treatment must be devastating enough for any parent. So try to imagine how Mark and Sarah Fairhurst, of Soham, felt a few weeks ago when
HAVING to tell your 10-year-old child he has a large cancerous growth in his leg that will require months of painful treatment must be devastating enough for any parent.
So try to imagine how Mark and Sarah Fairhurst, of Soham, felt a few weeks ago when their son Liam had a routine scan at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge, and it revealed two shadows on his lungs.
Imagine, if you can, having to break the news that the cancer that had already pulled all of their lives apart had returned.
"Liam looked at me and said 'Am I going to die'?" Mark told the Ely Standard.
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"I told him the truth. I said it was treatable and he wasn't going to die. We have always been honest with Liam. We couldn't do anything else.
"He realises the significance of what he has already faced and he knows the risks of the treatment. He is constantly asking questions and will soon let us know if we deviate from something we have told him previously.
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"We tell him the truth and answer his questions with an appropriate level of depth.
"I know it's a cliche but you have to look on the bright side. You have to stay positive for your child.
"We have always been determined to find something good or positive out of the very worst situation."
Liam, who attends Soham Village College, was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma cancer in June 2005. He underwent four operations, seven courses of chemotherapy and 32 blasts of radiotherapy.
The secondary cancer was discovered during the routine scan, which checks the soft tissues to make sure the disease has not spread.
An earlier scan in November was normal, but in February - just a few days after Liam's 12th birthday - the Fairhursts had their worst fears realised.
"We were all devastated," said Mark. "I just got this horrible cold feeling. I thought 'It can't be happening again'.
"But then you have to divorce yourself from those feelings because you have to be positive for your child.
"Liam has been very ill, but we have met other children and families who are facing much worse situations than ours. Small children who have had the most invasive surgery and there they are sitting up in bed and smiling and chirpy."
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, family life and the daily routine will change dramatically. The school run, the weekly shop and finding the time to care for other children are all thrown in to mix of hospital appointments and caring for a sick child.
The Fairhursts say when Liam, who has a 10-year-old brother Callum, was first diagnosed their family routine was thrown into chaos and they were desperate to return to some kind of normality.
"In that first few weeks after Liam was diagnosed, we kept asking 'When will life get back to normal?'
"It took a while for us to realise that we would have to find a new normal.
"I honestly think that life without the support of CLIC Sargent would have been fairly miserable," said Mark.
"I really don't think we could have coped.
"Also the support of people in the community and the generosity of people who have helped Liam to raise money for his campaign have all helped to reaffirm our faith in human nature.
"There is so much good out there and sometimes when we are having a bad day it does help to outweigh some of the bad.
"We really hope Liam's campaign and his fund-raising efforts will make a difference.
"The one thing I want to emphasis is that Liam is not doing this for himself, he's doing it for other people and that's important to us.
"It's important that the community have come together for a common aim.
"We have nothing but praise for the teachers and staff at Soham Village College who have already raised £2,500 since February. I really believe this acknowledgement of others in a worse situation will help to produce a generation of children who are more caring.