Self-isolation diary: Blood tests at home for four-year-old having chemotherapy


Mum-of-four Emma Cooper, aged 42,  lives in Meir Park with her husband Scott, 47, and children Eddie, 15, Louise, 14, Heidi, nine, and Madeleine, four. Madeleine is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a stage four germ cell tumour, so the family are only leaving the house for essential medical appointments.

In Emma’s own words:

Our weekends are normally full of the children doing their extra-curricular activities. Heidi would normally go to her dance school and ice skating lessons, and has struggled to understand why she can no longer go to the things she loves. I would usually play mum’s taxi, so having additional time on my hands was alien too.

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Instead, Saturday morning offered a fresh challenge – online ballet class. At 42, I attempted my first demi plies and pirouettes! I’m not sure I’ll be auditioning for the Royal Ballet anytime soon, but it was fun to keep moving and try a new skill, and better still to have a go with my daughters.

Madeleine is mid-cycle with her chemotherapy and had her bloods done and dressing changed at home, as this limits trips outside of the home. She has a central line, which she calls ‘her wigglies’, so this makes it less daunting for her than continuous needle access.

The amazing nurses from the community team are also adjusting to new practices; visits are now solo to minimise contacts.

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Madeleine did brighten the nurse’s day though by sharing her artwork that is displayed in our front window as part of the #frommywindow campaign, to keep community spirit alive. All our NHS workers are doing such an amazing job under so much pressure and adapting to new working ways every day.

Unsurprisingly, Madeleine’s bloods showed she was neutropenic, which means she doesn’t have a lot of white cells to fight infection. This didn’t stop her from joining in with Olly Murs’ danceathon on Saturday Night Takeaway though; she really does have all the moves!

The family played table tennis in a cabin in their garden.

The elder children are very independent, especially as we have previously been away from home so much at the hospital etc. They are used to cooking for themselves at times, so I felt particularly awful at having to tell my eldest daughter off for making herself a stir fry and using all of the broccoli (which was earmarked for Sunday lunch). We just don’t know when we can get out to get some, and if it is safe enough to do so.

We are pretty fortunate to have a decent garden and an ‘oversized’ shed/ cabin at the bottom. We retreated down there for much of both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and had a family table tennis tournament. I lost, abysmally, but it was still great fun and it was lovely to take some of the pressure off and do something nice as a family.

Madeleine made a Mother's Day breakfast for her mum, Emma.
Madeleine made a Mother’s Day breakfast for her mum, Emma.

The weather was even pleasant enough that I got some washing out to dry, so got my vitamin D that way instead of my usual walk. Again, I’m confused by the government advice, and uncertain I would be able to stay two metres away from everyone, so best to stay in our own boundaries.

I was brought to tears on Sunday morning by our amazing neighbours Richard and Sue, who dropped a care package off on the doorstep consisting of flowers, prosecco and a whole raft of treats for the children. This means so very much as my mental health has really suffered since Madeleine’s diagnosis and somewhat more so at this time. Richard in particular, does a lot within the community to support mental health, so thank you guys!

The Cooper family had a hamper of treats left on their doorstep by neighbours.
The Cooper family had a hamper of treats left on their doorstep by neighbours.

I was unable to see my own mum for Mother’s day as my parents are in their 70s and classed as vulnerable too. My Mum dropped a joint of meat off for us all to enjoy and picked her card up, again from the front step.

Wine and a family movie wrapped up the weekend. I expect we will hear more in the coming days about Madeleine’s treatment regime moving forward. I hope people read this and it inspires them to stay home.





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