COLDS are common in babies and they usually clear up on their own.
So when mum Anjna Caulton noticed her little girl was suffering symptoms, she didn't think much of it.
Seven-month-old Mia had just started nursery and had a runny nose, was blocked up and have a feverish temperature, mum Anjna said.
Now, looking back at that period of time, the 44-year-old says her little girl had been particularly cranky and was taking a long time to settle.
It wasn't until she noticed changes on Mia's body that she realised something was terribly wrong.
After several tests and numerous visits to her GP, little Mia was diagnosed with infantile acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a rare blood cancer.
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Headhunter mum Anjna is helping raise money for charity Blood Cancer UK – so that more research can be carried out so other little girls can enjoy being a child – just like Mia.
Anjna, who lives in Perton, South Staffordshire said she had been unsettled by Mia's symptoms, but that many people had assured her that it was just because she had started nursery.
She said: “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.
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“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.”
Anjna, along with her husband Simon, 49, took their little girl to the doctors, who found her her blood platelet level was very low – which was causing the bruising.
At this point, Mia was very pale and the bruises were followed with little red dots appearing sporadically over her body.
Mia was then referred to the hospital – who immediately took the family into isolation.
Two weeks after her first visit to the doctor, her parents were given the terrifying blood cancer diagnosis.
What is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.
According to the NHS around 790 people diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.
Although it is rare, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is the most common type of leukaemia that affects children.
- pale skin
- feeling tired and breathless
- unusual and frequent bleeding gums or nosebleeds
- high temperature
- night sweats
- bone and joint pain
- easily bruised skin
- swollen lymph nodes
- tummy (abdominal pain) – caused by a swollen liver or spleen
- unintentional weight loss
- a purple skin rash
Mia had to spend nine months at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
There she received 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 are pleased Mia is doing well. We only have one wish for Mia – that she goes on to live a full and happy 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," she told NeedToKnow.online.
Another 18 months of daily treatments and Mia finally got the all-clear in March 2020 – just before lockdown.
In July 2020, she was able to ring the bell to mark the end of her treatment – three years after her initial diagnosis.
“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.
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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.”
They are now backing a campaign launched by Omaze Million Pound House Draw, which will raise crucial funds for the charity.
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