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Childhood cancer

Isn't life beautiful? Maggie in the Pyrenees - thanks to CLIC Sargent, the NHS and a cancer travel insurance policy from World First.

Imagine being told your child has cancer. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about does it? But this is the reality faced by thousands of parents every year here in the UK. According to CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading childhood cancer charity, 10 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer of some form or other in the UK every day.

This month they are asking anyone and everyone to get involved with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to raise valuable funds to help those families, to help raise awareness of the issues of childhood cancer and to campaign for better support and understanding from the government about childhood cancer.

Why tell you this? Because my family are survivors. And we are also World First customers, happy travellers and life lovers, who like nothing more than to celebrate the time we have been given by seeing a bit of the world.

So, if it’s ok, please let me tell you about the things that CLIC Sargent did for us, and why we’ll be supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Maggie, my daughter, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), an aggressive form of leukaemia, just after her first birthday. Shortly before she was diagnosed she was whisked away in an ambulance to a specialist hospital 100 miles away in Bristol and didn’t come home for six months. My wife went with her, and stayed by her side almost constantly for the whole time, unless I was there to take over. I should point out that Jo was 3 months pregnant with our second daughter at this point too.

After the diagnosis it was like the world stopped turning. All we wanted to do was focus on hospital, on Maggie, on chemo, on dealing with this horror. For that we had the NHS to turn to, who provided a room for Maggie and no end of love, knowledge and skill to treat the disease as best they could.

But, of course, while we were dealing with the shock of this terrible news, the world was still turning. Time didn’t stand still. And that meant life was still going on around us. Life’s laundry, which at first seemed so unimportant, still had to be done. We had no idea how we’d cope with being so far away from home, with the mortgage, with work, with being in hospital, with the fallout from six months of intensive treatment. We had absolutely no clue what to do.

That’s when CLIC Sargent stepped in. CLIC Sargent gave us a place to call home for the duration of Maggie’s treatment. They gave us a family room in a warm, caring house near the hospital that we had, rent free, for six months. They provided a play specialist on the ward so that Maggie could have some time away from her bed and Jo and I could have a little time away from the ward. They helped me with my fuel costs so I could travel to and from work (200 mile round trip) and not give up our only income. They provided specialist nurses to teach us how to do some of Maggie’s basic care. They provided us with a social worker to help us cope and to offer us support. They provided our second daughter Charlotte with her first home after she was born at the hospital in Bristol. They provided a care worker for us when Maggie came out of hospital so that Jo could spend a little time with our newborn. They also provided us with a local nurse who watched over us for the first five years after Maggie came out of hospital and still watches over us, even now, 11 years later, albeit from a distance.

They made the impossible possible. But that was only possible with the help of people like you - who go out and do amazing fundraising stuff or offer their support or buy Christmas cards or wear golden ribbons to celebrate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Without your help our lives would have fallen apart. It’s as simple as that.

So thank you.

Finally, you know by now that our story has a happy ending. We got our daughter back from the brink and have been making hay ever since, even though the emotional after effects haven’t been all that easy to cope with. While the last thing on our minds was travelling when Maggie was undergoing treatment, Jo and I promised ourselves we’d travel if we survived. We promised ourselves some time together as a complete family, away from the worry.

In 2012 that dream came true and we hit the road on an extended 10 week trip to see Europe. A World First travel insurance policy helped us make that happen. They didn’t see Maggie as someone with a tainted history that made her a bad risk like other insurers. They saw her as someone who wanted to go out there with her family and explore, despite her previous health issues, and were able to offer us an affordable policy to cover any eventuality while we were away. It gave us the peace of mind to hit the road and have the time of our lives.

So there you have it. That’s why we support CLIC Sargent’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks for listening.


*Martin is a freelance writer, a World First policy holder and a big fan of CLIC Sargent. His daughter Maggie is now 12 and has been cancer free for almost 11 years.

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