“The day we found out John James had cancer our lives were thrown upside down. He had been studying hard for his GCSE exams and there had been no obvious signs that he unwell. To hear the news that your son has cancer was just devastating.”

“In the weeks leading up to his diagnosis, and now with the knowledge I have of the disease, maybe there were thinks that signalled what was to come. For example, John James discovered a boil on his arm… I took him to our GP and he lanced it and gave him antibiotics. The following week it was an abscess… the dentist removed it. The final straw was when John James passed out in school a week later.

“We weren’t too concerned when we left the surgery, but not long after we got home I got a call from the GP Surgery. They wanted to double-check exactly what tests our GP had ordered. I told them that the doctor wanted to rule out diabetes and anaemia. The voice at the other end of the phone said, “that’s no problem Brenda, but can you bring your son in to see your GP first thing tomorrow morning?” I instantly knew something was wrong.”

As a result of his treatment John James lost his hair, something that according to his mum Brenda affected him quite a lot. “I remember John James eating dinner at the table and all of a sudden he screamed – a huge lump of hair had fallen into the food. He was very obviously upset, but I decided to tackle the issue head on. I went and got a pair of shears and shaved his head.

“From then on John James wore a hat. He was very sensitive about his hair loss and even wore his hat on the ward – I think the only time he took it off was when he was at home and in his bedroom.”

John James’ hair has now grown back and according to Brenda trying to get him to have it cut is a nightmare! “I totally understand why he’s reluctant to visit the hairdressers and I know it will take a wee bit more time for John James to feel totally comfortable about his new found hair, but when his hair gets out of control I have to beg him to make an appointment – he always goes… eventually.”

Brenda had this to say about the help she was given by CLIC Sargent; “The support we as a family received from CLIC Sargent and particularly from Laurena was simply out of this world and will never be forgotten.

“Cancer put our lives on hold for about two years, but we came out the other side a much stronger family. While a lot of this is down to us, Laurena played a huge part in our journey. She said all the right things, at the right time and knew when to give us some space. She has become a part of the family and to this day continues to ask after John James – you just can’t buy that level of support.”