#bilbosjourney, childhood cancer awareness month
Bilbo's Journey

Day 4: Reward Charts, Leaflets and Pooh

I don’t think I’ve paid much attention to things like Macmillan Cancer Support leaflets before, but then, I’ve never been the mother of a child with cancer before… today I picked one up.

I spotted it on my long walk to M&S (this hospital is impressive in more ways than one) to pick up some dinner. Rich took H home around 5 pm and left my mum and me to get Bilbo settled, ready for bed, and settled for the night. The walk was helpful because I used it to think and be alone. Make mental lists.

Tonight, I mostly thought about what a crapper of a day it has been, and little did I know it would get worse before I got to sit and write it all down.

The thing is cancer, is shit…and today it has, been shit in the literal sense too.

About last night

Posting about Bilbo’s illness last night felt like a huge weight. The love and support have lifted our spirits and confirmed what we already knew – we have the best friends and family. The comments also softened the blow of an over 20-mile out-of-my-way route home from Oxford due to missing a turning and a closed A5. I was listening to a hilarious podcast, The Guilty Feminist because I needed the laugh, and the music would probably turn me into the opening scene of Bridget Jones’s Diary or Sad from Inside Out.


By the end of yesterday I had no tears left and a banging headache – plus I love, a good podcast. Feel free to share your favourites in the comments below I have a feeling I will need more on my them playlist.

Being home felt weird. I immediately felt guilty for not being with Bilbo and then felt guilty for feeling guilty as I knew H hadn’t seen me since Monday morning.

Apparently mummy guilt quadruples when your kid has cancer – AWESOME!

Rich had let me know Bilbo had also had a nightmare and then taken a long time to get to sleep. He started steroids yesterday and we know they will affect his moods and sleep. He’s also in a strange place and connected to “the robot.” Rich calmed him down with cuddles, but I felt so far away.

What day of the week is it…Thursday?

4 days in, I’ve already lost the plot on days of the week. Days and dates mean little; it is all about what today entails, what is happening next, and “Have you eaten?”

After some good sleep, I felt good, but as the day progressed and we watched Bilbo every step of the day, I was exhausted, and in the last hour, my heart shattered a bit.

We don’t know what we’re doing.

We’re day 4. Of course, we don’t, but I’m sure we’re writing the textbook right now on how not to do your kid has cancer thing…we’re bribing Bilbo to take his yucky medicine with sips of Diet Coke. Once completed, we have a star reward chart that means a new piece of dino lego, and we’re talking a “big bit,” not the teeny tiny boxes. But you know what, I don’t give a crap because right now, I just got to get through this week and get him kicking cancer’s butt before we can start thinking about how we manage this longer term. So I’m handing stickers out like their candy because a. sweet bribes aren’t working and b. this stuff isn’t easy.

Day 4

Bilbo looked puffy. He looked different from the combination of all the fluids in his system and the steroids starting to work. He was despondent. Even Harrison playing peekaboo didn’t lift his spirits.

H took it in his stride, but the room was scary, and his brother was in a big bed surrounded by tubes, wires, and funny noises.

The highlight of my day was when we were all trying to work out how Bilbo’s bed was moving backwards and forwards. Bilbo kept saying “who’s doing that”. We thought it was him joking but no little old H had shimmied down the bottom of the bed. He had found the big control panel and was having a whale of a time pressing the buttons. (it is the small things that keep you sane)

Bilbo needed another blood transfusion. The transfusion gives him a little more energy. As soon as it kicked in, we headed to the playroom. Bilbo’s energy lasted only a short time. But H loved the home corner.

New kid on the block

Being on Day 4 means you’re the new kid on the block; everyone needs/wants to talk to you. Bilbo’s room has been a revolving door. Doctors, nurses, the play team, a teacher, a physio, a music man, the cleaner, the porter with food. I have a notebook now for names and jobs. I use the notebook to make lists and to make notes about treatment. Bilbo has medicine orally (which he hates), he has anti-sickness meds, he has chemo, more fluids, and more blood. It is never-ending, and it is exhausting to keep up, and it is ONLY day 4.

And truth be told i’m not keeping up. I have a pile of papers to read, a book about ALL and a book for Bilbo. My mum had read snippets to me tonight and i’ve shut it out. Because I know when I start reading, this will all stop being about the fun ward with the lovely kids room. And a tubes of different coloured liquid feeding into Bilbo and it will be about him having the big C word and me having to be a grown up. There I said it I’m not feeling very grown up right now. And whilst we’re on confessions the real highlight of my day was when both the boys napped at the same time!

Cancer is starting to take its toll

Day 4 sucks because we’ve also seen Bilbo starting to suffer. He doesn’t want to eat but needs to eat to take meds. Bilbo needs to pee all the time due to all the fluids; the chemo is an irritant on your skin, so if we don’t clean him, he will get sore. He is tired and grumpy, yet every time he’s comfortable or sleepy, we wake him for more meds or prod and poke him for observations. Or, in the case of the last 20 minutes, he’s been so restless he pulled his cannula out, and we’ve had a blood bath, much to Bilbo’s horror.

Ickle Tickle with nanny to wind down for bedtime. Little did we know it would be another 3 hours before he actually rested.

And tonight, much like last night, he lost it. He screamed, he growled, he cried for his mummy, and I couldn’t do a thing apart from holding him. My mum held him; he kicked her, he screamed, he shouted, and he sobbed. And do you know what so did I. My tears flowed because I got it – I felt like doing all those things, too. So they say to keep a brave face, smile, and happy face in front of them, but tonight, I couldn’t let my tears fall. Then I pulled myself together, cleared up the pooh because diarrhea is another gift from the cancer gods, and got on here to bash out my anger on the keyboard.

Some questions you’re asking…

What can we do to help?

There are lots of things you can do. Firstly, knowing you are there is making us feel supported and loved. The wave of positivity has been immense – so thank you! Right now, there isn’t much else. We are working on what the road looks like for Bilbo. We know it is going to be long, and we know it will be bumpy. So there will be times when we’ll need all sorts: support, understanding, babysitting, etc.

How can we find out more about ALL?

Check out these links they’re reputable and factual:

Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

My child has just been diagnosed with cancer

Can we have your address?

We’ve already received some beautiful, heartfelt letters/cards, so feel free to keep the positive vibes going. We’re adding them to Bilbo’s wall in his room on the ward, and when we go home, we will decorate a wall with your support. I’m going to call it our wall of love because we’ve decided to fight cancer; we’re going to fill this journey to the top with love.

If you’d like to send us something, please email us at godberstravel@gmail.com or our Facebook page, and we can send you our details.

I feel helpless…

Please don’t feel helpless; you can do so many things. We’ve picked out a few that are specific to the situation we’re in.

Give Blood

Bilbo has had two blood transfusions so far and three lots of platelets. They must come from somewhere, so look up your local blood donation and give a few pints. They give you a biscuit in return, and who doesn’t like a biscuit?

And despite day 4 being rubbish for Bilbo I feel better after getting it all out. So, I am signing off now as I need to make up my camp bed and tidy up, ready to take on day 5.

17 Comments on “Day 4: Reward Charts, Leaflets and Pooh

  1. Kim, thanks for the update. The whole Pearson family is with you. We are trying to see what we can do to organize a blood drive. Go and conquer Day 5.

  2. Kim, bribe away and keep scattering stars onto the star chart like glitter; you’re in crisis mode at the moment and all you need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. You can figure the rest out later.

    Podcast recommendations – my very favourite is the HighLow by Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton. Smart, funny and a nice mix of in-depth discussion and silliness. I’m also devoted to the Archers Omnibus, but it’s not for everyone 🙂

  3. Hugs, love and prayers for darling Bilbo. May Good keep him in his care!!

  4. We can’t even get calpol past our Alex’s lips, so how you got yucky meds past Bilbo’s god knows! Thank you for the update and links. It’s helping us cope with our worry. I know you said don’t google but we couldn’t help it. We’re thinking of all the poor children, families and friends who were forced on this hideous journey 50 years ago but never stood a chance. And how, today, most have a fantastic chance. The fight is no less life-altering and arduous for those affected, but hooray for science for giving people a fighting chance. X

  5. In tears by the time I got to the end of your post , u r all amazing 💕 what a horrible journey for u guys 2 b having xx

  6. I always remember reading that actually, it’s ok to cry with the child when something really is upsetting for you too, otherwise it can be more confusing than anything else – like “hang on, this is awful and I’m so upset but mummy thinks it’s all fine..” if that makes sense? Sending you so much love and positivity. Thinking lots of you all. Xxxx

  7. Kim you’re doing amazingly well….lots of hugs, positivity and prays to you, Bilbo and your family xxxx

  8. Hi Kim. I’m a friend of Di & John (we all worked together) so I feel as though I kind of know Bilbo from Di’s postings & this news is such a shock.Richard won’t remember me but I have met him in the past through his Mum. You’re right to write your blog because it will let us all know how Bilbo is faring, but it will also be cathartic for you. I wish you all the very best & send love & hugs at this difficult time – you will get through this & Bilbo will be the happy carefree little boy again xxxx

    1. Thank you – i’m finding organising my thoughts at the end of the day is helping me sleep!

  9. Bless you all, what a tough time, and as someone else said its good to cry with them when you are in a tough place. And wow what an amazing person you are Kim! Whilst all this is going on thinking about and providing details on how others can help. You are so strong! Happy to hell with any babysitting going forwards if you need somewhere for H to go. Seren is similar age so sure we can entertain for a while should you need it x x

  10. Hi Kim,
    We dont know each other,im your uncle Terrys buisness partner. Ive just read your story and to say i feel for you is an understatment. I know you have a good family as Tel has told me so im sure you’re getting plenty of support and love. I hope the fact some random bloke in Nottingham is thinking of you all and that gives you a tiny bit of comfort. I for one will be giving blood this week as ive not done so in a couple of years. Take care and stay strong x

    1. It does thank you for commenting the support means the world to us and one day Bilbo will understand too!

  11. Living life in hospital is a tough gig. I think you guys are doing amazing and doing all you can to support the care programm Bibo needs. Remember to take time out for you if only for a lap round the hospital. A fuzzy mind , pounding headache and exhaustion can side step after a good power walk. Stay strong. If you need anything let us know. X Price family thinking of you all and sending our love X

  12. Just do whatever you need to do to keep him getting through each day. And you too. Try to push that guilt away. You’re doing amazing just gettting up to face another day with shitty cancer. Thinking of you all so much xx you’re a tiger mum and you’ll get him through this with tears and hugs and bribes and love xxx come on bilbo we are all sending you strength xxxx

  13. Just found your story from Dina’s e-mail about the Dino Bake Sale (I work for Pearson too). Sounds like you’re all doing amazingly in such a tough time. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey.

    I echo the High Low podcast recommendation – my absolute favourite!

    Also, I don’t know where you live but don’t think I’m too far from you (I’m between Bedford and Luton) so if there’s anything I can do to help I’d be more than happy to – I know how much of a nightmare the logistics of childcare etc. can be when you have 1 in hospital.

    I’m giving blood on Tuesday and will be thinking of Bilbo and sending you all the positive thoughts.

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