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"I know my son, Ozzie, will want me to support others with blood cancer"

18th Jan 2021 - Miranda Rogers

Miranda will be walking among hundreds of others in our Walk of Light, in memory of her son, Ozzie. Knowing this is something he'd want her to do, she feels proud and honoured to be able to take part. Will you join her?

My son, Ozzie, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in October 2018, at the age of 15. He loved rock music and was a talented guitar player. He was active, full of fun, loved being with family and had his whole life in front of him.

He played rugby for a local team called Rainey Old Boys under-16 squad. He loved training and being part of the team. One Saturday, after a rugby game, I remember him saying that it was the best game he ever played. But that following Wednesday, while at training, he found himself struggling to even get through the warm-up. Unknown to us, this was the onset.

He went to the doctor the following day, as the glands in his neck were swollen and it looked like glandular fever. He was given a course of antibiotics. The following week, he improved slightly, but was very weak and pale.

I took him back to the surgery and the doctor managed to get the smallest amount of blood out of Ozzie. I was told that the results probably wouldn’t be back within surgery hours, but the out of hours doctor would ring me if anything was wrong.

We left that day, not thinking anything of it, apart from feeling a bit run down. That evening, we received a call telling us that we should go to A&E. That night, Ozzie was transferred to the Children’s Haematology Unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast.

Ozzie endured over 100 days of induction chemotherapy.

He never reached remission after his first round, which meant he was classed as ‘refractory’.

He developed a fungal lung infection which made him seriously ill – he lost so much weight and muscle mass which caused cardiomyopathy.

His second round of chemo was reduced due the prospect of acute heart failure and death.

After his second round, a target drug was added to his treatment to try and get him into remission. Finally, he reached a level where he was able to receive a bone marrow transplant at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Back to ‘normal’ life

When returning home from Bristol in May 2019, following his transplant, he remained positive. He headed back to school in October so that he could re-sit his GCSE’s and enjoy life. He was so happy thinking that there was no more blood cancer.

However, just over a year after his transplant and during the first lockdown, in April 2020, he relapsed. The leukaemia was back!

He waited over a month to be admitted to adult cancer services before undergoing treatment. His leukaemia was more aggressive and there were limited options with treatment. Infections took over and pneumonia finally took his life in September 2020.

Losing Ozzie has been devasting for our family

We’ve been supported by charities locally in Northern Ireland, and I came across a post on Facebook advertising the ‘Walk of Light’ to support Blood Cancer UK. A charity that is dedicated to funding ground-breaking blood cancer research.

Why I'll be taking part in the Walk of Light

I feel it’s so important to support research into all the different types of blood cancer. I have a good group of friends who are eager to help me raise much-needed funds. It was so easy to create a JustGiving page in Ozzie’s memory, and I feel honoured and proud to be able to do this.

I know he’ll want me to support others that are going through a blood cancer diagnosis and treatment.

My 5k Walk of Light will start and finish at Ozzie’s resting place in Polepatrick Cemetery Park in Magherafelt. It’s a beautiful parkland where many people walk and visit their loved ones. If you would like to support my Walk of Light, please visit my JustGiving page.

Our blood cancer support team is here for anyone worried about blood cancer. If you have a question about blood cancer, or would like to talk through how you're feeling, please call our free and confidential support team on 0808 2080 888.