I went on a tour of the Oncology department prior to our stay there. This was to be Poppy’s new ‘home’ for the next week.
Alder Hey are very proud of their 10 million pound unit. And rightly so. It’s a research learning and treatment centre under one roof. Complete with its own chef, Playstations next to every bed and a brand spanking Teenage Cancer Ward about to open. But it’s more than that to us. This signifies the start of treatment. Knowing it’s going to get worse before it can get better.
Walking in I felt as though we’d entered five star accommodation.
Aside from all the fixtures and fittings being a million miles away from our cramped room on a ward, it was the attitude of the staff that made a huge difference. Immediately the pace seemed to change. No one was rushing around in a panic, there were no monitors bleeping all night and everything seemed strangely calm.
The reality of where we were unnerved me at first. Walking into the ward and seeing children with no hair attached to drips made everything frighteningly real.
I’m embarrassed to say I felt uncomfortable. And then, ashamed of myself. Other children’s cancer made me not know where to look, and I knew I really needed to get over myself. There were babies in cots and smiley toddlers all being braver than I was. Why was I feeling scared? Poppy was taking it all in her stride and had made herself at home in the playroom. I was fighting the tears back… I think the uncertainty of what we were facing was slowly dawning on me.
I spoke to cheery staff members and another mum who’d spotted me welling up across the room. She was going through her own living hell and still took the time to reassure me Poppy was in the best possible place. Back in the playroom, Poppy didn’t want to leave. The staff told me this always happens and the children spend so long here, they don’t want to go home. This made me sad too. “She’ll get used to us” they tell me with a smile. I want to stamp my feet like a petulant child. I know they’re being kind, but I don’t want her to get used to it. I want this to not be happening and I want her home.