A mum has revealed how her baby got diagnosed with a rare blood cancer – with the first sign being a runny nose and cold-like symptoms.
Anjna Caulton, 44, from Perton, South Staffordshire, noticed her seven-month-old daughter Mia had been suffering common cold symptoms, but didn’t become concerned until she found more worrying changes to the baby’s body.
“Mia had just started nursery and she was suffering from a runny nose, was very blocked up and had a feverish temperature,’ Anjna, a headhunter, told NeedToKnow.online.
“When I look back during that period, she was particularly cranky. She cried a lot and took so much settling.
“I was very unsettled by her cold-like symptoms and how tearful she was, but everyone assured me it was because she had started nursery and was building her immune system.
“Little did I know it was in fact her immune system in serious trouble.
“I then noticed a significant lump on her right side, by her ribs, but she wasn’t sitting yet so we wondered if it was an animal sting.
“Within days I noticed quite a lot of bruising on her legs and arms which really panicked me.
“I wondered if I was really stressed and I was holding her too hard whilst changing her nappy, or whether these were from her nursery. Hundreds of terrible thoughts were going through my mind.”
She and husband Simon, 49, took the tot to the doctor, who found her blood platelet level was very low – which was causing the bruising.
Anjna said: “Mia was very pale and these bruises followed with little red dots appearing sporadically over her body.
“It was at this point after the third GP visit, she was referred to hospital who immediately took us into isolation.”
Mia underwent several tests and within two weeks of first visiting the doctor, she was diagnosed with infantile acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a rare blood cancer.
She stayed at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for nine months to receive a gruelling cycle of treatments, including lumbar punctures, bone marrow operations, blood transfusions and chemotherapy.
Anjna said: “It was the scariest and most uncertain time of my life.
“I looked at this little face, my little girl whom I already love more than anything in the world and wondered whether she would get taken from me. It’s the most unbelievable pain.
“Every parent brings their child into the world, with the expectation they will outlive you, this diagnosis completely threw out this natural order to life.
“It was a life-changing period, as parents we left our day jobs to help Mia through her recovery. As a family, we learned quickly to adjust to our new life.
“We wanted to surround Mia with as much positivity as possible, so on her good days, we still went for walks around the ward in her baby walker.
“She hit some incredible milestones all during treatment, such as taking her first steps, her first birthday, her first words, Christmas and New Year.
“Staying very present, taking one step at a time, one day at a time, we got through and took our baby home.”
After a further 18 months of recovery treatments involving daily trips to the hospital, Mia finally got the all-clear in March 2020, just before lockdown.
Anjna said: “Mia rang the bell to mark the end of her treatment in July 2020, exactly 3 years to the date of her diagnosis. It was a very special and emotional day.
“We are pleased Mia is doing well. We only have one wish for Mia – that she goes on to live a full and happy life.”
The family was supported by Blood Cancer UK throughout the ordeal.
Anjna said: “The care and support of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Blood Cancer UK has given us the greatest gift imaginable – being able to watch our beautiful daughter grow up and enjoy being a child.”
The family are backing a new campaign launched by Omaze Million Pound House Draw, which will raise crucial funds for the charity.
The initiative means a stunning 4,200sq ft Cornwall home worth £3 million is currently up for grabs with tickets starting at just £10.
The fundraising campaign will bag Blood Cancer UK a minimum donation of £100,000 guaranteed, and has a target raise of at least £500,000.
The house will be mortgage-free, with all stamp duty and legal fees also covered. The winner will even get £50,000 cash to help them settle in, and is free to either live in the house, rent it out or sell it.
The draw is also backed by Olivier Award winning actress and Blood Cancer UK supporter Dame Penelope Wilton, who has been involved with the charity since appearing in the film Calendar Girls – alongside Dames Helen Mirren and Julie Walters – in 2003.