Marcus is my inspiration
Sasha was devastated when she lost her five-year-old son Marcus to neuroblastoma. But now she is fundraising for Sparks to help save other families from the pain of losing a child. She tells her story here…
“My son Marcus was a happy boy. He always had a smile to offer people he met and it was easy to fall in love with his warm, generous character. He was advanced for his age and I think this maturity was to be our saving grace in the years that followed.
Marcus had always been healthy baby and as a toddler he avoided the viruses that circulated the playgroups. However, in the latter part of 2002, Marcus started to complain of stomach pains and his appetite disappeared.
After three hospital visits, five doctors appointments and 12 weeks of investigations, Marcus was finally diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer. He was just three years old.
We had absolutely no idea what neuroblastoma was or what the impact of living with this disease would be. But we soon found out. Marcus was immediately admitted into hospital and put on a course of chemotherapy. It felt as though we had walked into our worst nightmare.”
Fighting the cancer
“The months to follow were a continuous series of tests, tubes and treatments. Marcus had stage 4 neuroblastoma. The cancer had spread throughout his body and had formed several secondary tumours throughout his bones.
The treatment was intensive and the effects were harsh but Marcus stayed positive. I explained the cancer to him in simple terms, as bad cells which the chemotherapy was working hard to get rid of. I assured him that what he was going through was just one of life’s lessons that he had to learn to make him the strongest, best person he could possibly be.”
A glimmer of hope
“After months of tube feeding and medicines Marcus seemed to be getting better, he gained a little bit of weight and strength. This gave us a renewed sense of hope and a small glimmer of light at the end of a seemingly long, dark tunnel.
However the ups and downs were extreme and we would spend the majority of our time in hospital fighting to keep Marcus well. His immune system was so low due to the chemo that his body couldn’t even cope with a common cold. A regular virus would put him into critical care and onto life support. Still, I believed that Marcus would recover and we would be able to put this nightmare behind us.
The months turned into years as we attempted all possible treatments to keep Marcus alive, although the original tumour shrunk, the secondary tumours remained and the outlook became bleak. Eventually, he went into palliative care and was given weeks to live. Marcus died shortly after his 5th birthday.”
Working for a cure
“Anybody would agree that it is unnatural for our children to die so early on in life, especially in such tragic and painful circumstances. The loss of Marcus has left a massive hole in my heart, one that cannot be filled, but with the help of the incredible work of Sparks and their fight to find safer and more effective treatments for neuroblastoma, a part of me is able to find some peace of mind and much-needed comfort. I will continue to help Sparks find a cure and fundraising to make medical research possible is, in my opinion, the only way to save our children and their families from the devastation we experienced. Please help us to find a cure.”
Please visit Sasha’s justgiving page and support her fundraising for Sparks