Playing in isolation: Cristina's story

22 Apr 2020, 12:07 p.m.

Cristina with her sister, Africa

While at GOSH, Play became an essential part of Cristina’s recovery. Now back at home, her family have devised lots of clever ideas to keep Cristina and her two sisters entertained.

Cristina's story

In 2014, Cristina was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour – a form of kidney cancer mainly affecting children under five years of age. Cristina was only 3 years old at the time.

Following months of chemotherapy at Great Northern Children’s Hospital at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, she was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for surgery.

Cristina had her left kidney removed, and a partial nephrectomy on the right kidney.

Following surgery, Cristina continued to have chemotherapy for another six months, finishing in late 2014.

Though kidney cancers in children are rare, Wilms’ tumour is the most common type.

The Play Team at GOSH

Following surgery, the GOSH Play team stepped in to help during the recovery period.

“We spent a lot of time in the Play Room, and the Play Team brought her books and colouring and did their best to entertain her, I think we even watched Frozen from her bed one day when they brought the DVD player and tv into her room,” says dad, James.

“They’d also bring her teddies and toys, they were very nice. The Play Team were very helpful and their support meant that we as parents could have a break to get something to eat for example.”

Cristina with her mum at GOSH

Playing in isolation

“The girls have quite a structured life here at home, which helps in isolation. They have homework to do daily, and then after lunch we usually go outside to the garden. I’ve restructured my work so I’m able to be with them in the afternoon. They like helping me do DIY stuff, like painting, or hammering.

“The girls have recently been learning to skip and have competitions, things like who can skip backwards, or who can twirl the rope while jumping.

“Cristina is very artistic and enjoys writing stories and drawing – she has a great imagination. They don’t have tablets; we don’t go on devices much.”

“Having 3 sisters helps a lot, because they can play with each other and keep busy.

“One of the activities they’re really into is making storm trooper masks from their Easter egg packaging. They’ve taken cardboard from the boxes and joined it with cling film to make the masks that fit on their heads."

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