“For Noah, he saw it as a place filled with superheroes, fun. . . and the world’s most delicious pancakes.”
Claire was devastated when her son Noah developed terminal cancer, but the team at Claire House helped them to enjoy some family fun despite their pain.
“Watching in wonder as my sick little boy savoured every bite of the pancakes that had been placed in front of him, I couldn’t help but smile at the look of delight in his eyes.
“We were at Claire House, and the pancakes on Shrove Tuesday were just one of a number of treats the staff had arranged for us as my husband Keith and I tried to enjoy the few very precious months we had left with our son Noah.
“After first being diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer aged just 16 months, Noah had relapsed for a third time, and knowing the prognosis was not good we had chosen to spare him the ordeal of more chemotherapy. Instead, our aim was to support our loving, sociable little boy as he tried to live his life to the full. Claire House very quickly became a vital element of that plan.
“The situation we had found ourselves in was a world away from the one we anticipated when I fell pregnant with Noah in September 2012.
“Keith and I had married the previous year and we were over the moon when we found out we were to have our first child together.
“From the moment Noah was born we were both besotted, and I would spend hours cuddling him, marvelling at his tiny fingers and toes and imagining the exciting future he would have.
“But at six months old he developed a lump underneath a strawberry mark on his back, and by the time he was one it had grown to the size of a potato.
“Noah was sent for scans and was eventually diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. What followed over the next two years was a whirlwind of remission and relapses – and Noah wore a superhero outfit for every chemo treatment he had.
“Despite the cancer, we tried to create a happy and normal homelife for our boisterous little boy and for the most part we succeeded. Noah even managed to achieve a key milestone – starting school – which was very emotional for us all.
“But by January 2018, the cancer which was now in his brain had spread so aggressively that we decided to stop any further treatment. It was at that point that we were introduced to Claire House.
“The first day we visited, I felt as though my heart would break, but the team were incredible. They invited a policeman to visit Noah in a police van, arranged for him to go swimming, made handprints and footprints with him . . . they helped us to make lovely memories out of the worst possible scenario.
“While the entire situation was new to us, the team knew what to expect, so they tried to prepare us for what was to come, answering any questions we might have and even making sure that Keith and I were eating.
“They also took over Noah’s medication, which meant I could just enjoy spending time with him rather than having to think ahead to his next dose all the time.
“Noah was so brave and went through so much without complaining. By March 2018 he was four-and-a-half-years old and he was struggling. He had been in bed for three weeks, and one day he said he wanted to watch TV. We moved him into a big chair in the Claire House living room and watched Disney films with him – his favourite thing to do – all day.
“The following day, Noah passed away.
“There’s no question that Claire House provided the most amazing support throughout the worst time of our life, and the difference it made in helping us deal with the situation as a family was invaluable.
“I thought going there would be scary, but it wasn’t. For Keith and I, it was a haven of knowledge, understanding and warmth. As for Noah, he saw it as a place filled with superheroes, fun . . . and the world’s most delicious pancakes.”