In 2017, at the age of 12, Louisa was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Four months after her diagnosis, she underwent a bone marrow transplant. That year was incredibly difficult for Louisa and her family. During her treatment, (and after her transplant), Louisa spent a year and a half either in bed or in hospital. She spent six of those months in protective isolation and was unable to go to public places or see other children.
“Louisa suddenly stopped interacting with children at a stage when her social development was very important.” explains mum, Karine. “She missed over a year of schooling too, so that period of time was very challenging for her- for us all in fact. As a family we suffered from a kind of post traumatic shock.”
“At school, strong friendship bonds are often developed during years seven and eight, so after her treatment, it was difficult for Louisa to recover those years.” adds Karine, “She missed a lot during that period and when she returned to school, many friendship groups had already formed.”
Naturally, this had an impact on Louisa’s confidence and social development.
Becoming a camper!
It was during a visit from a community nurse that Karine was shown a leaflet all about Over The Wall and told about the benefits camp can offer children with health challenges. “It looked perfect, so I applied for a Health Challenge camp for Louisa.” said Karine. “I was also encouraged to apply for the Anthony Nolan Family Camp – so I did.”
“Louisa had a wonderful time at camp and met many friends. Now they all stay in touch and send regular messages to each other! Anyone in Louisa’s life will never fully know what she has been through. They can be supportive, and empathise, but not truly understand. She found this understanding at camp and she made strong connections with people who could share similar experiences. When she came home smiling and laughing and had inside jokes and fond memories of her time at camp, I could see the big contrast compared to how she was before camp.”
“Then of course, we all went to the Anthony Nolan Family Camp, and this was amazing. It was so wonderful to all do something together. My husband and Louisa’s sister, all joined in on all the activities. We really let go and had a fantastic time. It felt great to be a child again – and I don’t just mean for Louisa – I mean for all of us.”
“There was so much fun and laughter, and we also met other families, joked with them, chatted and exchanged numbers. Like Louisa, I have good friends, who can sympathise and support me, but unless you have been through what we have – it’s difficult to truly understand. At camp, the parents had been through similar experiences, worries and issues that we have, and meeting them made a big difference.”
“If I’m honest – I really didn’t want family camp to end. I could have easily stayed another week. We all loved it. The whole family. We dived into everything. It was a much-needed week of fun and laughter.”
“I never imagined camp was ever going to be as good as it was for all of us. It was unforgettable.”