Daniel, 10, marks the end of his leukaemia treatment at hospital families are ‘so glad to have’
The family of a 10-year-old boy who has just finished cancer treatment has praised the “outstanding knowledge, care, and expertise” of the teams who looked after him in hospital.
Daniel Jones marked the end of more than three and a half years living with leukaemia by ringing St George’s end-of-treatment bell – cheered on by his family and by staff.
Speaking after the emotional event, dad Philip said: “We can’t fault the care at St George’s. Any time we had any concerns we could call the ward and there would be someone able to help us shortly after we arrived.”
Daniel was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2020, when he was six years old, and Covid was just rearing its head.
Daniel, who is one of four brothers, fell ill with a virus at the same time as his sibling Noah. Philip recalls that Daniel took longer to recover, and a couple of days later he was ill again, this time with a temperature all day.
It was at this point that Suzanne, Daniel’s mum, had a feeling something was wrong.
“My wife’s concern grew as Daniel had started having unexplained bruises on his legs. Towards the end of the day that he was ill with a temperature, she noticed red marks on his ear lobes, chest and back” said Philip.
“We brought him into St George’s Emergency Department, where the team quickly took a blood test and on seeing the results, sent his blood off for further testing at the Royal Marsden.
“I stayed the night in hospital with Daniel while Suzanne looked after the boys at home. She came into St George’s the next morning. We then got some of the results from his tests.”
The Jones family received news that any family would fear: Daniel had B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Philip continued: “We were, of course, concerned, but the hospital reassured us that Daniel’s prognosis was good. The main worry we had was how intensive his treatment would be and how vulnerable to infections he was.”
Daniel spent his first week at St George’s Hospital while he was being stabilised with antibiotics and blood transfusions. He then started his chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden for 11 days. Throughout his treatment, his care was jointly provided by both hospitals.
At the same time, the pandemic was taking hold. “We became more anxious about the pandemic as we knew Daniel was now vulnerable and immunosuppressed,” said Philip.
Speaking on the current NHS England consultation into children’s cancer services, where the service that treated Daniel could be relocated away from St George’s Hospital, Philip said: “You can’t use public transport when your child is immunosuppressed, and I can’t imagine having to drive into central London every time Daniel needed urgent care.”
Daniel spent numerous days and nights in St George’s throughout his treatment. The medical and nursing team, collaborating with the Royal Marsden, were extremely thorough in their care for Daniel as they balanced treating both his infections and leukaemia.
Last month, with Daniel’s close and extended family there to celebrate with him, and a huge batch of homemade cupcakes, he proudly rang the end-of-treatment bell on a cold but sunny day in St George’s gardens, cheered on not least by his three brothers.
The family also visited Pinckney Ward, where Daniel received much of his care, to thank the team including nurses Naomi and Holly, the play specialists, and all the ward staff who paid special attention to Daniel’s favourite things like cats, Spider-Man, and building activities during his time in hospital.
The charity Momentum, which has supported the family with online tuition for Daniel, a boat ride on the Thames, and stays at a holiday cabin in the UK, also came in and was praised by the family.
“The best part of this whole process has, of course, been when Daniel has reached his ‘lasts’,” said Philip. “His last chemotherapy appointment, his last lumbar puncture, his last weekly medication, his last daily medication, and finally his port being taken out.”
Suzanne, who herself used to be a nurse at St George’s Hospital, added: “Thank you again to all the team at St George’s and the Royal Marsden for the amazing care Daniel has received. The knowledge, care, and expertise have been outstanding.”
And Daniel’s grandmother, Marie, said: “St George’s has been fantastic for Daniel. We’re so lucky to have it in our local community. Everyone I know has a positive experience when they are at the hospital.”
Naomi Oldreive, Paediatric Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, said: “To see Daniel back at St George’s grinning from ear to ear was incredible and I’m so proud of how far he’s come.
“Ringing the end of treatment bell is such a momentous occasion for the patient and their family and we, as an oncology team, feel very privileged to be part of that celebration.
“We will miss Daniel and his family up on Pinckney Ward but look forward to seeing him in the outpatient department to hear all about what he has been doing. Well done, Daniel!”
The NHS England consultation into the future of children’s cancer services in the region means that the service, that St George’s and the Royal Marsden have jointly run for 25 years, could be relocated.
If services stay at St George’s a new state-of-the-art children’s hospital will be built on-site.
The Jones family thinks kids deserve St George’s.
You can find out more about the consultation and have your say at: https://www.stgeorges.nhs.uk/news/kids-deserve-st-georges/