July 21, 2022 11.58 am This story is over 23 months old

“Nothing prepares you to hear the word cancer next to your child’s name”

Aiden is thankfully now in remission

When Aiden Smith was diagnosed with blood cancer at just 22 months his mother said “my job as his mum was to protect him – but nothing prepares you to hear the word cancer next to your child’s name”.

Aiden was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a rare type of blood cancer which effects white blood cells, and was mute in hospital due to the trauma of his ordeal. Thankfully, Aiden is now in remission

Aiden, who is now seven-years-old, endured three years of gruelling surgical procedures, daily chemotherapy, deep tissue injections, lumbar punctures, blood tests, steroids, and more.

Weekly dressing changes to the central line fitting in his chest were particularly traumatic for Aiden, with his mum Felicity eventually having to take over from the nurse in the hope of calming her son down.

Aiden receiving treatment in hospital.

His mum Felicity, 37, said: “There is nothing that can prepare you, as a parent, to hear the word cancer in the same sentence as your child’s name.

“My job as his mum had always been to protect him and keep him safe. I felt helpless.”

When recalling having to calm him down during the dressing changes, she added: “He would scream and beg for it not to happen every time. He would plead with me – ‘Mummy please don’t do it, please don’t hurt me’.

“It felt at times like each day brought a new way to torture him.”

Aiden when he was younger with his mum Felicity.

Mother-of-four Felicity, 37, credits the “world of make-believe” that Aiden, who lives with his family in Gosberton Clough near Spalding, was able to access via gaming for helping him cope during difficult and isolated times.

Aiden’s wish for a Gaming PC was granted in November last year by the children’s charity Make-A-Wish UK. The wish was granted following the charity’s ‘Wish 100 Week’, a seven-day fundraising event where £200,000 was raised and 100 wishes were granted.

When asked why his computer means so much to him, Aiden, who has three siblings Mason, Serenity, and Alex, said: “Are you kidding me? It’s the best thing ever, ever, ever. I have no words to explain how much I love it.”

Aiden in hospital.

Aiden, pictured with his dad Nick, suffered hair loss during his treatment.

Felicity said: “Aiden was isolated so much as a child that he didn’t get a chance to be a carefree little boy, and so he sometimes struggles to engage with kids his age.

“His computer gives him an outlet where he feels safer and allows him to engage with other children. If he sees another child at the park in a Minecraft t-shirt, it gives him a starting point to make friends.

“It’s been wonderful to see how happy and excited he gets when he is drawn into his virtual world, and importantly, how it has helped him develop in the real world – when I can prize him off it and get him outside.

“He has now said he wants to be a gamer when he is older, or a footballer or a police officer, depending on which would allow him to buy a Lamborghini quicker.”

Make-A-Wish UK granted Aiden’s wish for a Gaming PC.

Make-A-Wish UK has seen a 400% increase in gaming related wishes in the past few years as many children turning to it to provide respite from their condition.

Lia Young, Child Psychotherapist and Make-A-Wish UK medical advisor, said: “Most young people today live in two worlds at once: the real world and the virtual world.

“When the real world can feel limiting or lonely, the virtual world can be a place to meet friends, build shared experiences with their peers and where anything is possible.”

Aiden, showing his bedtime smile, is now in remission.

Jason Suckley, Chief Executive at Make-A-Wish UK, added: “As Aiden’s story shows, the power of a wish can light up the darkness for children living with a critical condition – just like gaming itself. £400,000 will light up the darkness for 200 more children like Aiden, with 100% of funds raised going directly to granting wishes. Please visit www.make-a-wish.org.uk/wish200week to donate.”