Abigail's story

Abigail’s mum Becky talks about their experience at hospital and at home, with the support of the Palliative Care team at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Abigail’s diagnosis

“Abigail was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer, at 16 months old and was referred to GOSH in April 2012. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread from her liver to her heart and lungs so we always knew we were fighting an uphill battle.

"After eight months of chemotherapy and two weeks of radiotherapy, we were told the devastating news that Abigail’s disease was terminal and that we only had months left with her. At this point we were referred to the hospital’s Palliative Care team.”

Going home

“Our lives were torn apart and we felt completely lost. We knew one thing, that we didn’t want Abigail to spend any more time in hospital. We wanted her to have a normal life in the months that she had left, and set about arranging experiences and days out.

The Palliative Care team enabled us to do this. They visited us at home so we didn’t have to set foot in a hospital and Tanya, our Palliative Care Representative, established a close relationship with us all.”

Confidence and support

“Tanya also gave us the confidence to administer medication and to look out for signs that the disease was returning, so we knew when and how much pain relief was required. We felt totally supported and even had the confidence to take Abigail out of the country to Disneyland, Paris. We knew that the team was on the other end of the phone and they even arranged letters from the hospital for us, so Abigail was able to join the front of queues.

"Once you know that your child is terminally ill, the time that you have left is everything to you. Abigail had never been given the time to live a normal life and the Palliative Care team gave her this. It was extremely difficult, but we managed to have a relatively good six months with Abigail and those memories mean everything to us.

"We wanted Abigail to pass away in the security of her own home with us so that she didn’t feel scared. When her last days arrived our intention to keep her at home was achieved. At the most unimaginably difficult time in our lives, we were given the confidence and strength to look after our little girl ourselves, with support from the Palliative Care team – we owe them so much.

"Now when we look back, we know that we all did everything we could for Abigail.”