Leeds mum's 'world stopped' the moment daughter, seven, was diagnosed with cancer
A Leeds mum has told of daughter's brave leukaemia fight and how charity Candlelighters provided a lifeline for her family.
Natasha Gausi, of Hunslet, said she and her daughter Diamond Twee Chiumia did not leave Leeds Children's Hospital for seven weeks from the day of the devastating diagnosis on August 19 2020.
"My world just stopped," Natasha said. "Everything just stopped at that moment."
From the moment of diagnosis mum and daughter were given practical and emotional support by charity Candlelighters, which Natasha said was crucial in helping them get through their ordeal.
Natasha said Diamond still had traces of leukaemia after four weeks of chemotherapy treatment and a decision was made to place her on the waiting list for a bone marrow transplant.
After seven weeks in hospital, mum and daughter returned home.
But Diamond had only been back at Moor Allerton Primary School for around two weeks when she suffered a relapse after complaining of blurred vision.
At the end of October 2020, doctors told Nathasha that the leukaemia had come back in Diamond's eyes.
"I was so gutted," said Natasha. "I thought we have been through such a horrible time already, then to be telling me this."
Diamond, who has a five-year-old brother called Ahmen, was readmitted to Leeds Children's Hospital, where she underwent a further four weeks of chemotherapy.
On Christmas Eve doctors told Natasha that a stem cell donor match had been found for a bone marrow transplant for Diamond .
Mum and daughter were allowed home on Christmas Day.
"I was so grateful, said Natasha. "We don't know who the donor was, you are not told."
Rob Burrow hopes drug will help in his battle with Motor Neurone DiseaseDiamond underwent radiotherapy treatment before having the bone marrow transplant on February 20.
She was an inpatient at Leeds Children's Hospital for the next three-and-a-half months as her health deteriorated.
Diamond had to be fed through a tube and could not walk or communicate fully.
"They said it is probably the hardest that she would have to fight through that treatment," said Natasha.
"For me, as her mother, it was the hardest thing to see her go through that. A week after she had the transplant things just started changing.
"It was horrible. She didn't understand that for them to make her better she had to get to that point.
"She said 'why are you letting these people do this to me? Why can't we just go home?
"It was lonely. You are in that room 24/7 because the immune system is quite low."
After three-and-a-half months in hospital Natasha said Diamond could barely walk.
Mum and daughter went home on May 22 and Diamond slowly regained her strength before going back to school at the start of this month.
Diamond, who is now aged eight, has regular checks to ensure she is free of cancer and all have so far been clear.
"You get nervous when she has just had the test done," said Natasha. "(When it is clear) it is just an amazing feeling.
"I am so, so happy. All the pain that she has been through, the treatment and everything, now you know it was worth it.
"When you get that result you think 'it was hard, but we got there in the end.'
Natasha, who stayed with Diamond every day and night she was in hospital, said she had invaluable support from Candlelighters.
"They do everything in the most difficult time of your life," said Natasha.
“The list is endless but just to name a few: help with laundry, food vouchers and food shopping, referrals for talking therapy, massage offers, always checking on me and Diamond asking if we need anything doing.
"God knows what I would do without the cups of tea and just for them being there to listen and so often passing those tissues when things get too much.
"They became family for me and they always will be."
Candlelighters is urging people to support the charity this September, which is #ChildhoodCancerAwarenessMonth.
Candlelighters say their mission is to bring light to every family affected by childhood cancer across Yorkshire.
They provide emotional, practical and financial support, as well as bringing hope, by investing in vital research to improve the outcomes and lives of children with cancer.
Every September Candlelighters seeks to turn Yorkshire gold in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
City Council buildings and Leeds First Direct Arena will light up gold on September 30 to help mark the campaign.
You can set up a gold-themed fundraiser by heading to their website at www.candlelighters.org.uk/ccam/
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