Self-isolation diary: A family birthday and news of an operation for Madeleine


We have certainly had an eventful couple of weeks since my last update. We rarely make plans, however one of the things we had been looking forward to throughout lockdown was our son Eddie’s 16th birthday.

Just a few days beforehand we learned that Madeleine had been allocated a date for surgery in Birmingham, and that date was Eddie’s birthday.

We sat down with Eddie to break the news to him and he was extremely mature about the circumstances. He told us the priority was his sister and he was more than happy to celebrate his birthday on an alternative date.

A few frantic emails later and I had managed to reorganise the delivery dates for his cake and balloons.

We had our celebrations two days prior to Madeleine’s surgery. Present unwrapping was a fun affair, with Madeleine appointed chief helper.

Eddie’s 16th birthday was on the day of his sister’s operation so the family celebrated two days early. He received the parts to build his own computer.

He loved his t-shirt with the slogan ‘Turned sixteen in quarantine’ and was overjoyed to unwrap the component parts of a gaming PC which he had been religiously researching when under normal circumstances he would have been revising for his GCSEs.

The temperature was scorching, so I arranged a social distancing singing of Happy Birthday at noon with a few friends.

He hadn’t left our house for 12 weeks due to shielding, even for daily exercise like the majority of his friends, so I made a concession and a total of four boys sat in the corners of the front garden and enjoyed a Diet Coke break.

They caught up and gossiped for an hour or so then Eddie went indoors without them and constructed his PC. He had it up and running by 6pm, just in time for his requested birthday meal of Domino’s Pizza, which wrapped up a wonderful day.

We travelled down to Birmingham Children’s Hospital first thing in the morning on the day of Madeleine’s surgery.

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The strict distancing rules in place meant that we were all screened at the door. She had already had a Covid-19 negative test as a prerequisite before surgery.

Only one of us could accompany her into the ward and down to theatre.

She wanted daddy with her while she had the ‘strawberry mask’ (general anaesthetic), so that left me to try and sort out the accommodation so that we could tag team during her recovery over the forthcoming days.

Mum-of-four Emma Cooper, aged 42, lives in Meir Park with her husband Scott, 47, and children Eddie, 16, Louise, 14, Heidi, nine, and Madeleine, four. Madeleine has been undergoing chemotherapy for a stage four germ cell tumour, so the family are only leaving the house for essential medical appointments.





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