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Max’s story

Helping children feel more like themselves

Every child recovers differently. By understanding their individual needs we can help young people like Max feel better quicker.

Max's R baby picture

At the age of two Max started to complain of achy legs and was walking with a slight limp. When other children his age were running and playing Max just wanted to be picked-up. Sensing something wasn’t right his parents took Max to the doctor who put his aches down to growing pains. But when Max began to wake with night sweats it became clear that something else was going on.

Though initially diagnosed with Septic Hip Arthritis, specialists were still concerned. A sample of Max’s bone marrow and blood cells showed he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia - a fast progressing cancer affecting the white blood cells - and his three year treatment plan began the very same day.

During his first year of treatment, Max’s immune system struggled to fight off infection and he spent a lot of time being cared for in hospital. It became a home from home. Max would enjoy his rare time between treatments scooting up and down the corridors on his balance bike, or looking out of the windows for trains and planes, while his parents learnt as much as they could about their new reality.

The frequent shuttling between home and hospital had ripple effects across the whole family. Max’s baby sister, India, was born during his first year of treatment and spent almost as much time at the hospital as Max. Grandparents, aunts and uncles formed a support network, becoming regular visitors to Max’s bedside and his parents always had a bag packed, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Max Rowlandson
Today, Max loves running, gaming and playing cricket. His family are fundraising for Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust so that more young people like Max can feel better, quicker.

In the early days of Max’s treatment I remember talking to one of the consultants about the hope of a children’s hospital. Knowing there’s a specialist ward that always has room would have meant the world to us and I hope Cambridge Children’s Hospital makes that possible for other families.”

Max’s mum, Jodie

Each day they arrived at hospital, Max’s family would have a nervous wait to find out if there was space for them in the specialist oncology ward. When the beds were full Max would be treated in other wards; even, at times, in the baby unit. Those were the toughest days for his family. Spending time with children that had a broken bone or swollen appendix, knowing they would soon be going home to recover, while Max’s treatment had just begun. Cambridge Children’s Hospital will give families the privacy they need, with single bedded rooms alongside spaces to spend time together.

With holistic care which understands their individual needs, we will know the person, not just the patient. Now cancer-free, Max and his family are amazing fundraisers for Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, a way to give back to those who gave Max back his health. He loves going to the local skate park, remembering the skills honed riding his balance bike down hospital corridors.

We understand that in these abnormal situations, young people need to feel a little more normal, no matter their age. Cambridge Children’s Hospital will be for every child and young person up to the age of 19, with spaces for fun and play, as well as to relax and reflect. To ensure older children like Max have access to the things they value most: the things that will make them feel better.

Max R sitting on a bed Max and his beads
Max R sitting on a bed
Now cancer-free, Max marks the end of his treatment each year with a mini celebration.
Max and his beads

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