TEXT WISH TO 70111 TO DONATE £3 A MONTH
“I wish to search for the Loch Ness Monster”
7 years old, Swansea
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
For Harry, books about mystical creatures offered him a world to escape to whilst undergoing treatment for leukaemia, an ordeal that left the seven-year-old with health anxiety. "He asks us if his cancer is going to come back," said dad David. But his wish to find the most famous and mystical creature of all, the Loch Ness Monster, gave Harry and his family a ray of "light after the darkest of times."
"Within two weeks our two-year-old went from bouncing off the walls to bed bound and skin and bones. He was crying. It was horrendous."
After Harry appeared to have a virus that had been lurking around for too long, Mum and Dad called 111 for advice. "After a few questions we fell into the classic characteristics of leukaemia," said Dad. "The phone went quiet, and they told us to go see the out-of-hours GP."
Following an appointment with a GP, the family was rushed to Cardiff Children's Hospital, where Harry was quickly diagnosed with leukaemia. With Harry’s leukaemia being severe, doctors couldn’t understand how he was still walking. Dad spoke of the shock that was shared with Harry's mum, Chloe: "You hear it on the news, but you never think that your kid will have cancer."
"Everything quickly turned upside down," said Dad as he spoke about the six-week hospital stay that followed Harry’s diagnosis.
The family quickly became prisoners to an unknown and fear-filled world. "You're trapped in this world that's all about the mortality of your child", Said Mum. After a year of being in and out of hospital with Harry, Mum fell pregnant just as COVID hit, so only Dad was able to stay in the hospital with Harry. "We would go weeks without being able to see each other."
Now post-treatment, the ramifications of Harry's diagnosis are still felt: "If we go to take his temperature it brings back bad memories for us." At just seven-years-old, Harry experiences health anxieties. "There are mental health issues that we will be working through for years to come", said Mum. Still, Harry is a bubbly adventurous boy, who loves playing outside with his younger brothers. As Dad told us "From the minute he gets up to the minute he goes to sleep he wants to explore the world."
After being confined to the walls of a hospital for three years, unable to express his adventurous nature, Harry was finally able to hunt down the enigmatic Nessie. But how did Harry's fixation with the beast begin? Well, like many other toddlers, Harry is obsessed with dinosaurs.
"He's a dinosaur expert! They had dinosaur bed sheets in the Morriston hospital that were just for him!" explained Dad.
But it wasn’t until Harry was flipping through the pages of a mythology book whilst low in energy, one of many side effects of his cancer, with Mum while in hospital on one of his many stays that he discovered the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie. "He found Nessie who looks like a dinosaur. He became fascinated with him."
So when Mum and Dad brought up the idea of seeing Nessie himself, Harry turned to his parents and simply exclaimed "Yes!"
The thought of tracking down Nessie provided Harry with physiological benefits, giving him respite from the impact his illness has on his mental health: "It helped him manage his anxieties: when he was sad about how he's different to the kids around him, he latched onto the thought of his wish."
Instead of dwelling on his illness, Harry could focus his energy on something more positive. "If we spoke about it, it would be the main focus of the day," said Mum as she spoke about the many pictures that creative Harry has drawn of Nessie.
Treatment meant that the family had to stop making plans, instead focusing on "keeping Harry alive," as Dad told us. Just the thought of Harry's wish gave the whole family a positive place to escape to: "These things help our sanity and mental health, it's something to look forward to."
Embarking on their trip to find Nessie, adventurous Harry was in his element. The family's hunt for Nessie began in Swansea, as they hopped into their campervan and drove up to Scotland. Upon arrival, the family were treated to a full Scottish welcome as they were serenaded by bagpipes before stepping aboard Skipper Mike's boat, The Nessie Hunter. Taking the wheel, Harry captained the boat as he enthusiastically searched for Nessie.
Armed with binoculars, Harry and his brothers spotted the notorious Nessie lurking in the Loch's waters. "We actually spotted Nessie!" exclaimed Dad.
How Harry's wish helped
“Seeing Harry's face light up when he spotted her was incredible!" Said Mum who was sat by Harry at the back on the boat at the time. Harry then ran to the front of the boat to announce his discovery to the Loch over the boat speakers.
The day formed happy everlasting memories for the whole family. "We now have loads of photos and memories to remember it by," said Dad. "It could not have been more perfect. We really can't thank you enough for all that you did for Harry's wish. It was truly magical and a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
You may also like...
We rely on generous donations from people like you to grant wishes. Your donation will make wishes become a reality for critically ill children, supporting them where the need is greatest. Thank you.