Toddler diagnosed with rare form of leukaemia after getting ‘mystery bruises’ on holiday
A mum whose toddler was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia while on a family holiday has told how mysterious bruises first alerted her to the fact something may be wrong.
Mum-of-one Leighann Cochrane, 36, and her 53-year-old husband, Keith, jetted back to Scotland from their home in New Zealand five weeks ago with Arran, aged three.
The family planned to spend the break catching up with family and looking for a new home as they were set to move back after eight years in New Zealand.
But their lives were upturned when they began to notice mystery bruises on Arran – despite not seeing him fall over or bump into anything.
In late July they began to notice the “boisterous” tot, who likes to climb and jump off things, was getting pin prick bruises.
While the family was on holiday in Oban, Argyll and Bute, much larger ones also began appearing, without any indication that he was in pain.
Arran began looking paler than usual and had also started to complain of being too tired to walk, although he would still have bursts of energy in the playground.
On August 5, the couple took Arran to a GP who referred them to a paediatrician at Forth Valley Hospital the same day, and were warned it may be leukaemia.
The following day, medics at Glasgow Children’s Hospital confirmed Arran has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The family is now selling their house in Cromwell, near Queenstown, New Zealand as they do not know what the future holds.
Leighann said they were “destroyed” by the diagnosis, and are anticipating having to shave Arran’s head as his hair has begun to fall out due to chemotherapy.
She said the situation has not fully sunk in and the couple were dependent on their families for getting through it.
Leighann said: “He initially had quite a few on his legs, we thought it was just from being boisterous.
“He is a very active child, likes to climb and jump off of everything.
“It was really the two weeks before going to the doctor that we became concerned. They were appearing on his stomach, cheek, his bottom for no reason.
“Then he had a huge one on his head and lower back with lumps. He would normally cry and we would know what happened but they just appeared from nowhere.
“Then he started to get little pin prick bruises.
“I knew something wasn’t right and was worried about his clotting.
“I knew leukaemia was a possibility but I think I had blocked it from my head, I’d told myself there was no way it would be that.
“When the doctor said that’s what it was, I can’t describe the pain and fear. We were destroyed.”
Leighann, who works as a nurse, and Keith, an engineer, both resigned from their jobs as they now face the prospect of staying in the UK indefinitely. They were being helped by friends in New Zealand who were packing their belongings and sending them over.
They are taking it in turns to stay near the hospital where Arran is an inpatient, while the first five weeks of chemo begin.
That will be followed by another six months of intensive treatment and another 2.5 years of maintenance chemo.
Leighann, originally from Dunblane, Perthshire, added: “Some hair has started to fall out today so we will probably shave it soon.
“I think once his hair is gone he will look sicker and it’s going to hit me harder than that. This is all real.”
They are fundraising £10,000 to help cover costs such as bringing over Arran’s favourite books and toys, including Duplo and his Spiderman collection, as well as clothes for the entire family.
Leighann added: “He has his ups and downs. He hasn’t wanted to get out of bed for a few days but is brighter today.
“He has a very sore bottom which is distressing for all of us to change.
“We want to bring some of his favourite books and toys – he loves his Spiderman and Paw Patrol toys.
“We barely bought anything with us as we knew we would be taking some bits back.”
Leighann thanked donors who gave blood and platelets which had been used in Arran’s treatment – and asked people to consider going on the bone marrow donor list.
She added: “At the moment Arran doesn’t need bone marrow, we have no idea what his future may hold.
“Hopefully the treatment works and he will never need a donor.”