Last September, avid Frozen fan Mia Jones from Merthyr Tydfil was just like any other three-year-old, but when she flinched in pain while dressing for school one morning, mum Helen knew something wasn’t right.
“Mia had been fine the night before when I put her to bed but suddenly her arm was too painful to touch and I could feel a lump. I couldn’t think what was causing such pain and the lump, so I took her to our local A and E just to be sure. When the X-ray came back and the doctor told us he and his colleagues believed it was bone cancer, my whole world fell apart. I just didn’t understand how she could be fine one minute and then so seriously ill the next.”
As the local hospital did not have facilities to treat such illnesses, Mia was immediately placed under the care of the oncology unit at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales. There she underwent a series of further tests and scans which indicated that the earlier diagnosis may be correct. For a complete diagnosis, Mia had a bone biopsy at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital which specialises in bone disease. Her family then faced a long wait for the result.
Helen continues: “The weeks waiting for the full diagnosis were the worst of my life. We worked hard to manage Mia’s pain but the time mostly just passed in a blur while we waited for the diagnosis. I just couldn’t stop thinking about what the future held for her, while also feeling she was missing out on things like school, playing and seeing friends. We needed to protect her in a way, in case she got injured or caught illnesses – but then how long would this protective lifestyle be for her?
“The many staff from several wards we met through Mia’s treatment at Noah’s Ark were wonderful though. They tried their best to keep our spirits up and it was like being part of a wider family up on Rocket ward. The facilities were perfect for families too, with amazing playrooms throughout the building. There was an area where I could cook food that Mia fancied and because we also had a newborn baby, we were given a private room so we could all stay together.”
Eventually the biopsy results came through and thankfully, proved negative for bone cancer. Mia was diagnosed with a serious and rare cell disorder of the immune system called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. The disease can be very serious in certain parts of the body but as Mia’s was confined to the bone in her arm, it could be treated less intrusively. Even better news was that Mia’s biopsy had triggered a healing process, which can sometimes occur in such cases.
With a treatment plan of medication in place, regular consultations at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital revealed that the lump in Mia’s arm was gradually beginning to shrink. Five months on and Mia’s condition continues to improve. Helen says: “I just want Mia to be cured now, today, so we can put all this behind us but I know too how lucky we’ve been. A day doesn’t go by without me thinking of the other children we met at Noah’s Ark who are going through far more difficult times. I’m just grateful that we have such a wonderful hospital practically on our doorstep – for us and for all those other families in such serious need of this life changing facility“