'I am so proud to work for the NHS' - parents' thanks as son, 5, recovers from brain tumour
PUBLISHED: 09:07 22 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:07 22 December 2018
Copyright: Archant 2018
The parents of a five-year-old boy who had surgery to remove a brain tumour have told of their relief at his "miracle" recovery and their thanks for the incredible support from NHS staff, family and friends.
Holly and Mike Taylor were devastated when their son Finley was diagnosed following an MRI scan at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) at the end of August.
The Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School pupil had to be dashed on blue lights to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where he underwent brain surgery two days later to remove the huge 8cm mass from his cerebellum.
Mrs Taylor, 32, an auxiliary nurse on Cley ward at the NNUH, said: “It started about a year ago. Once a month he would wake up and say he felt hot, had a headache and he would vomit.
“After sleeping or lying on the sofa he would then be back to normal again in a couple of hours, as if nothing had happened.”
Despite several trips to the doctor, they could not find the cause. But when the headaches started to come more frequently, and Finley had not put on any weight for two years or grown for a long time, he was eventually referred for an MRI scan.
Mrs Taylor said that Finley, who has a two-year-old brother Max, was also clumsy, but she put it down to normal youthful exuberance and playfulness.
She said: “The first appointment we got for the MRI was in four or five weeks, but his paediatrician was so worried she managed to get it changed to that week and we are so thankful she did.
“Because I’m a nurse I knew from the things they were asking us and how many doctors were looking at the scan that something was wrong.
“It felt like an out-of-body experience. We were devastated and I couldn’t even speak to any of our family who were messaging to find out how the scan had gone.”
Husband Mike, 38, a data analyst for Aviva, dashed home to Richardson Crescent in Hethersett to look after Max and wait for family to arrive from Worthing, West Sussex, where the couple are originally from.
During Finley’s stay at Addenbrooke’s, which was just over a fortnight, the couple were able to stay at the Sick Children’s Trust’s Acorn House, which provides a home away from home.
Mrs Taylor said they were also given incredible support and a grant from Finnbar’s Force, a charity based in Hethersett which supports children who have brain tumours and their families and which was set up by Tristan and Claire Cork following their death of their five-year-old son Finnbar from a brain tumour in 2016.
“I knew Claire as I used to work with her at the Twin Oaks Nursing Home in Bowthorpe,” said Mrs Taylor. “She messaged me and offered their help and support. We wouldn’t know half the things we do about childhood brain tumours if it wasn’t for them.”
Following the surgery, Finley needed extensive physiotherapy and had to learn to walk again, but by November he was able to start back at school part-time.
The family could not be more praising of the care they received at Addenbrooke’s and the NNUH, and were told by clinical staff that Finley had made a miraculous recovery so far.
“I’m so proud to work for the NHS,” said Mrs Taylor. “They saved my life when I had Finley, as I haemorrhaged, and they have saved Finley’s life.”
Fellow Woodside parents rallied round with a collection for the family, and Mrs Taylor says she was overwhelmed and surprised at the “incredible support” they had from friends, colleagues and family, as well as from people they hardly knew in the village.
She said: “It just shows you what a fantastic community Hethersett is and I have only lived here for two years. The school has also been so amazing and supportive.”
Finley will need to have MRI scans every six months for the next two years, but for now the family is just looking forward to some quality time over Christmas.
Mrs Taylor said: “We just want to be as a family again and appreciate what we have got, because the outcome could have been so different.
“I just want Finley to have a really nice time so we can appreciate each other.”
Close to home for Finnbar’s Force
When Tristan and Claire Cork set up the charity Finnbar’s Force to help other parents fighting childhood brain tumours, they never expected to be helping another family so close to home.
And similarities in the cases of their son Finnbar and the Taylors’ son Finley shocked people in Hethersett who were already reeling from losing Finnbar in 2016.
Both pupils at Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School, they were both diagnosed at the age of five. Another incredible coincidence is that both their mothers are nurses.
Mr Cork said: “We were pretty shocked that another little boy in the village could be diagnosed with a brain tumour so soon after Finnbar. It doesn’t seem likely at all when you look at the statistics but it just shows it can happen to anyone at any time. It’s really indiscriminate.
”As soon as we found out we wanted to help them as much as we could, understanding what it feels like in the early days and for them it was good news that the tumour was operable.”
The Corks were able to give the Taylors advice and links to reputable sources of information about childhood cancers, as well as a grant to help with the costs of travelling to and from Addenbrooke’s and to pay for food while they were there.