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Health & Fitness Dad spends 28 days isolation in cramped hospital room to be with son for life-saving chemotherapy

14:28  24 may  2020
14:28  24 may  2020 Source:   msn.com

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A father who has spent 26 days in hospital while his son undergoes chemotherapy has described it as the "hardest thing I've ever done". The closest she has been able to get is to drop fresh clothes and supplies off at the hospital entrance where she can snatch a brief word with one of the nurses on

'A couple of days after I arrived to see dad in hospital he was up and walking about trying to cheer up all the other patients. Paul, who is said to be 'lucid', is now at his Thames-side home surrounded by his family, said his son , adding that the support of his fans had given them 'tremendous strength at

a group of people sitting posing for the camera: James and Oliver stay in touch with mum Laura through regular video chats © James Stephenson / SWNS James and Oliver stay in touch with mum Laura through regular video chats

A father has been isolating in a cramped hospital room for 28 days so he can be with his son while he undergoes life-saving chemotherapy.

James Stephenson and four-year-old Oliver have not been outside since April 27 and have been communicating with the rest of their family over FaceTime.

Little Oliver, who was diagnosed in January this year, is receiving crucial treatment for his neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer that originates from immature nerve cells.

a person holding a baby: Mum Laura keeps in touch through daily video calls © SWNS Mum Laura keeps in touch through daily video calls

The pair are not able to leave the ward they are on at Leeds General Infirmary and have been sharing a 15ft square room with an en-suite and a window.

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The only way mum Laura, 34, and Oliver's younger brother Alfie, two, can keep in touch is through video chats every day.

James, 32, said: "It's like groundhog day, you get up and do the same thing everyday.

"All the days are rolling into one. It's tricky to sleep as well at the moment because there are nurses coming in throughout the night to check in on Oliver.

"Sometimes I only know what day it is because some nurses only work certain days. Other than that I'm just looking at the same four walls everyday.

"I am doing it all for Oliver to get better and at least there is light at the end of the tunnel and we can see the other side."

a person lying on a bed: Oliver is being treated for neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer that originates from immature nerve cells © James Stephenson / SWNS Oliver is being treated for neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer that originates from immature nerve cells

James can go to a tea room 15 yards down the corridor, but Oliver cannot leave his room at all.

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Days after undergoing a life - saving operation to remove his stomach, Mr Wells was left lying in the cramped , windowless room after being wheeled into the makeshift ward 'They claimed that it was a "clinical decisioning space", but that just seemed to be an attempt to justify putting me in a cupboard.

They have been keeping entertained with arts and crafts from the hospital's play team and watching lots of Christmas films - Oliver's favourite, even in May.

The youngster was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma on his kidney after some routine blood tests in January.

The cancer, a rare type that develops from immature nerve cells and affects around 100 children in the UK each year, has tragically spread to his skull, eye sockets and bone marrow.

He has undergone two operations since his diagnosis and faces up to a year of treatment.

The couple are hoping Oliver can come home tomorrow (Monday, May 25) but his discharge will depend on whether he can be taken off painkillers, and if his temperature has gone down.

The month in hospital had always been part of Oliver's treatment plan - but Laura and James had never anticipated it taking place during the lockdown.

a small child sitting on a table: Little Oliver was diagnosed in January this year © James Stephenson / SWNS Little Oliver was diagnosed in January this year

Laura said: "It was always on the agenda but at the time we thought James and I would swap every couple of days.

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'We want to highlight this to save other lives . My dad devoted his whole life to care of other people to help try and make people live with dignity 'It was clear there was not enough capacity in hospital and there needs to be additional funding and staffing to mitigate damage that can be done to anyone else.

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"He could have had visits from grandparents and friends - at least people could have gone to see him.

"We knew it was going to be difficult but the pandemic has made it ten times worse.

"It's just heartbreaking not being able to hold him or to be there for him.

"He is only four so doesn't really understand why mummy isn't there and I don't want him to think that I have abandoned him."

Laura and Alfie are able to video call Oliver three or four times a day and they drop off clean clothes outside the hospital for a nurse to collect.

a baby sitting on a bed: Oliver hasn't been outside for a month © James Stephenson / SWNS Oliver hasn't been outside for a month

James said: "Oliver knows he is poorly and he knows he had a nasty lump out of his tummy when he had his surgery.

"He understands about the coronavirus. He talks about the nasty virus outside and that we can do stuff only when it has gone away.

"He has asked a few times to go home.

"I think he's getting to that point now where he's recovering a bit and he's just fed up."

When Oliver returns home the family will have to remain in quarantine for the foreseeable future.

James added: "It's going to take six months for his immune system to get back up to strength so we have to remain vigilant.

"But at least we will be out of this room.

"There will be a garden and fresh air - I don't know what that is after the last month."

Laura and James hope to take Oliver to the USA for pioneering Bivalent treatment, which is hoped will reduce the risk of the cancer returning if chemotherapy is successful.

The family is campaigning to raise £230,000 to cover the costs of the treatment and travel.

They have already raised more than £135,000 but their big fundraising events over the summer have had to be cancelled.

Donations can be made towards Oliver's treatment here.

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