Sunday, 11 September 2016

Harry's 9 th Birthday

So I sit here on the eve of Harry's birthday. I have no presents to wrap, no party planned, no excited boy. 
Harry would have turned 9 tomorrow. Alas he remains forever 6 1/2.
I sat in church today and those who had birthdays this week got a dip in the box, not my boy though. One of those hard few minutes to sit through. The world keeps on turning, but ours in some areas stands still. 
I have felt very emotional these last couple of days. That tight feeling inside, that I frequently got for months after Harry died, but less so now. The feeling of anguish, sadness and wishing Harry was here. 
Just as we get through the first few days of school and all the happy smiley faces of siblings returning for a new year, I have to get through another birthday without Harry here.
I was so very touched by a card we received on Friday from an old next door neighbour from my childhood, whom sent a cheque in honour of Harry's birthday for me to give to charity and £10 for Callum. It meant the world to me, because she remembered Harry, she mentioned his name. We also had another card from a fellow oncology mum, whose daughter died in 2012. 

Harry was our first born, our longed for child. He smiled and smiled as soon as he was able. He lit up our lives. Through Harry I have met so many people in Otley, through baby groups, church and school. 

Before having Harry I could count on one hand how many people I knew in Otley. Having children really has been the greatest gift. 

Now Harry is in heaven I have met more people, spreading awareness of childhood cancer. I attended the Leeds centenary Rotary dinner in May as the charity chosen for the year was Candlelighters following a talk I gave to their club last year. I was invited to attend and sat on a table of people I did not know, apart from Jo Shepherd, the director of candlelighters. This did not bother me, because I was there to represent Harry, I could legitimately talk about him. I was sat next to the BBC radio Leeds presenter Andrew Edwards and am going to be live on his show on Tuesday afternoon between 2-3pm with Jo Shepherd from Candlelighters to talk about childhood cancer awareness month - September. I hope to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms, raise the profile of childhood cancer and get it on the map. The more we talk about childhood cancer, the less taboo the subject will be. I also want to break the taboo of bereavement. Our society is so rubbish, most don't grasp it, they pitter,patter around the subject, worrying about what to say. Tomorrow will always be the day I gave birth to Harry, in the very early hours, about 1 am, he came into this world, he was 2 weeks early and weighed 6 lbs 5 ounces! 
Bereaved parents want to talk about their children, they light up when they hear their child's name. 

So on Wednesday I will be making a deputation to a full council meeting in Leeds with my friend Rachel Marshall, whose son, Oliver died of cancer 10 years ago age 4 1/2. We met through Harry as Harry was in her younger son's class. The deputation is to request councillors to glow gold for childhood cancer awareness, to try and get the awareness cards describing the signs and symptoms placed in public places, to get childhood cancer on the map as awareness can save lives. I have met some councillors already from North West Leeds, but this opportunity will give us the chance to spread awareness and in turn the councillors can spread awareness to their constituents. 

On Thursday Jonathan, an advanced Health improvement Specialist, will be taking 500 of our 'be childhood cancer aware' cards to an event aimed at G.P.s and the subject is cancer, he wants childhood cancer discussed too, so fingers crossed this produces results and will make professionals think more when seeing children with unexplained fatigue, temperatures, bruising, sickness etc! 

In honour of Harry I spread awareness and hope others have better outcomes, giving them the birthdays he no longer has with us. 

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