This one’s going to evoke a lot of emotion and is going to be a real tear-jerker, so have the hankies at the ready.
When parents have a kid, pretty much everyone will say that that moment’s the biggest and most happiest occasion of their lives. The feeling of holding a little one in your arms, cradling him/her gently, looking lovingly into the baby’s eyes – that feeling is incomparable to any other feeling or sensation one will experience in their lifetime. It’s just instant love – a part of you that you’re going to help grow and nurture and hopefully develop into a fine and importantly, healthy, human being.
But life’s not always that kind. It can sometime be cruel, really cruel, cruel and harsh beyond belief. That’s what these parents – the parents telling these stories – have experienced. But it’s nothing – as I’m sure the parents would agree - compared to what these brave little soldiers have endured, some of them for a lifetime.
Just as that feeling of love hits you when you hold your baby for the first time, imagine then being told that all is not right, that there are serious health concerns, that you’re little one’s going to have a battle on his/her hands to make it. It’s unimaginable to think what the parents and everyone involved must be going through, let alone the baby. But some unfortunately haven’t had to imagine it, they’re living it.
These are 15 truly heartbreaking stories told by parents about their kids. Not all of them have happy endings.
15 Baby ‘Ravaged' By Meningitis
Sometimes parents get a bad rap for going to the doctor’s all the time, when their kid’s feeling slightly under the weather. But at such a young age, their immune system hasn’t yet been built up, so going to the doctor is the smartest thing to do. That’s what Louise and John Done did. They thought their baby, Harry, just had a cold, but his state quickly deteriorated and the ambulance was called in. Little eight-month-old Harry was diagnosed with meningitis, and the infection, despite being put on antibiotics, ravaged his body to the point where he swelled up to twice his normal size. The next night, Harry tragically died in hospital. The parents had to make the incredibly difficult decision to take their baby off life support – the infection had left him black and blue and had left him brain damaged – they deemed it the most appropriate thing to do. He died in their arms after the priest gave a blessing and the machines were switched off. Harry will suffer no more. Louise has since raised thousands of pounds to help other families suffering from meningitis.
14 Little Once Choked On His Own Vomit
This really was a tragic set of circumstances – within a minute, Jeremy Rainsford’s life was turned upside down.
Three-month year old, Kayden, was left unsupervised at his family home in Western Australia for a matter of 60 seconds, but during that brief period, tragedy struck. Little Kayden’s dad, Jeremy, went to relieve himself and when he came back, he found his little one unresponsive – he was unconscious and died later in hospital, despite Jeremy’s attempt to perform CPR, which “broke him.”
Jeremy was playing with his son on the swings, had fed and burped him, and he was perfectly alright when he left to go to the toilet. Jeremy left his son unsupervised for a mere 60 seconds, but during this time little Kayden apparently vomited and it was this vomit that caused him to choke. The grieving parents were understandably left heartbroken, and are today doing plenty to warn other parents about the risks of leaving children unsupervised, drawing upon their own tragic experience.
13 Selfless Parental Love
Finding out your kid’s got cancer must be horrific. Then being told that the cancer was terminal – well, words can’t begin to describe what the parents of Adam Lewis must have gone through, let alone the brave young boy himself.
When 12-year-old Adam Lewis had a fit, surgery followed and then his parents were told the news that no parent on the planet wants to hear – there’s nothing that can be done – there’s no cure. Of course, Adam knew that something was wrong. But his family made the terrifically hard decision not to tell Adam that the cancer was terminal. Why? So he won’t have that prognosis looming over his head – so he’d continue to live his life and get enjoyment from going to school and being with family, where he was just adored.
Adam had chemo, radiotherapy and steroid treatments, but remained in good spirits and was smiling throughout. After he was diagnosed as being terminally ill, he fought on for a year before passing away. The family are now raising money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in memory of their brave little soldier.
12 Everything Happened So Quickly
Meningitis is a serious disease that can get to work fast, ravage the body and lead to death within hours. It claims thousands of lives – thousands of young lives a year – which had led to numerous bouts of campaigning to make the vaccine available to all children in the UK.
Alex Patterson is another young life lost at the hands of the infection. He was a seriously healthy boy, full of energy and not a thing wrong with him – no health concerns whatsoever – until one day, he was playing with his brother in the park, was having some lunch and fell sick. He began shaking, so his mom decided to call an emergent doctor, who based on the symptoms, said Alex just had a stomach bug. But then the rash was noticed and Alex was rushed to hospital, but by that point, despite their best efforts, there was nothing the doctors could do. Within 30 hours of displaying symptoms, Alex had died, succumbing very quickly to the serious illness that is meningitis.
11 Medical Blunder
This story’s heartbreaking because little William Mead’s death could have been avoided. The one year old got medical help, but it resulted in medical negligence – blunders and errors that ultimately cost William his life.
The National Health Service in the UK is a great thing – it’s one of the things that makes people proud to be British. But it’s common knowledge that staff are overworked, and that the NHS lacks appropriate resources and the right personnel. I’m not making excuses, simply saying that may have had a part to play.
Melissa Mead was William’s mom – her first child and the apple of her eye. So when he got poorly, understandably she was worried. She called the NHS helpline and even took him to medics, but no one spotted the signs of sepsis. An investigation after William’s death revealed that a staggering 15 medical failures had taken place which ultimately contributed to him not getting the proper treatment, and ultimately to his death.
Melissa posted a video in order to raise money and awareness for sepsis research. She also posted heart-wrenching pictures of the ultrasound of her baby – who’s now born – and a message saying she’ll never be able to get a picture of her two children together. A truly horrific and heartbreaking set of circumstances.
10 Hardest Decision For A Parent To Make
This is just – wow – horrific and heartbreaking in every sense of the words. Even those words won’t be doing what mother, Charlotte, had to go through justice – it’s probably the hardest decision anyone can make.
Little Nancy Fitzmaurice didn’t have the greatest of starts in life. She was born blind, had meningitis and had numerous other complications, meaning when she grew up, she wasn’t able to talk, eat drink – she basically needed constant care and attention. Despite all of that and against the odds – doctors gave her four years to live – Nancy made it to the age of twelve. But then she had an operation to remove kidney stones, there were complications, and after that Charlotte was told there was nothing more they could do. The medication she was on left Nancy in utter agony, and so Charlotte went to the High Court and begged them to grant her the right to let her daughter die. It was an historic case that made legal history, and in the end, the doctors took Nancy off her medication and fluids, and she passed away two weeks later. Charlotte told the court: “ My daughter is no longer my daughter,” and after the decision was granted and Nancy was taken off fluids, she said,” It was the right thing to do, but I will never forgive myself.” It’s unimaginable what everyone involved in that situation must have been going through.
9 Strangled In A Tragic Accident
One minute he’s playing, being a normal child, the next his life was over because of a tragic accident. That’s what happened to Josh Wakeman, a toddler – 22 months old – from Newport, Wales.
It must have been unimaginable for his mom , Tracy, who entered the room expecting to see little Josh running about, but instead saw a scene that’ll probably haunt her for life – her son trapped in the looped cord from his blinds in his bedroom and strangled to death. The family were understandably distraught that their little Josh had been snatched away from them in such a tragic set of circumstances, and that he’d died due to something they didn’t really think posed a danger. Evidently the beaded blind cord did pose a danger, and mom Tracy wants people to know about it, hence she’s speaking out. She wants to warn other people of the hidden dangers around the home: “No other family should have to go through what we're all going through. I'm doing everything I can to make sure this doesn't happen again.”
8 Boy With Leukemia Scared To Sleep
Texas mom, Jessica Medinger’s cancer-stricken son, Drake, had a seriously tough childhood. At just ten years old, he’d already endured acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and then was struck again with testicular cancer. Jessica’s brave little boy is still battling on, but understandably the journey to some form of recovery has been seriously tough.
Drake’s plight came to light when his mom began posting stories of his struggles on Facebook, how he’s trying to continue with his life, and heart-rending photographs of Jake at his worst in order to spread awareness and show how bad it gets.
Drake was barely able to eat and what he did eat he had a seriously tough time keeping down because of the chemo. He had to go be on a drip, but the chemo eventually worked and that battle was finally over. But about six months later, Drake faced a new battle, testicular cancer. He can’t control his bowels, can’t eat, can’t be touched due to the pain, falls asleep in mid-sentence due to exhaustion – truly horrific circumstances.
He also sleeps in his mom’s bed for fear of dying in the night. Jessica recalls them having conversations in the middle of the night, Drake asking his mom: “will I go to heaven and will I see my dad there and be able to talk and play with him.” Truly heartbreaking stuff.
7 Mom’s Blog Inspires Song
This story touched many people, including singing sensation Taylor Swift – it inspired her to make the song, ‘Ronan.’
Mom, Maya Thompson, began writing a blog back in 2010 documenting her son’s battle with the rare cancer, neuroblastoma. Little Ronan was diagnosed when he was three years old, battled on for nine months, but tragically passed away just before his fourth birthday.
Swift had been reading Maya’s blog, invited her and her other boys to a concert, and just told Maya how much she was touched by her family’s story. She later left Maya a voice message telling her she’d written a song for Ronan. Maya said: “The tears started pouring down my cheeks as soon as I heard her say those words. But her words didn't stop there. Not only did she write a song, but she wanted to know if it would be alright to perform it on the nationally televised show – Stand Up 2 Cancer.” Maya gave her the go-ahead and it turned out to be a really emotional night, not only for Maya and Swift, but for everyone watching the show. Maya was extremely grateful, not only because of how it touched her personally, but because it did a tremendous amount for awareness.
6 A Constant Battle
This has to be every mom’s worst nightmare – being told your child has severe disabilities that are going to affect her, and you, for life. That’s what mom of three, Karen Griffiths, experienced when she gave birth to Shauna.
When little Shauna came into the world, Karen was told by doctors that she was deaf. Then, about two and a half months later, she had some form of laser treatment which went wrong and resulted in her losing her eyesight. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, and Shauna, now 13, who is being cared for by her mom, can only recognize her mom by touch; “she touches my face and knows me,” Karen has said. But Shauna almost didn’t make it to that stage. She’s had numerous health concerns and complications during the course of her life, and on more than one occasion, Karen thought she was going to lose her. It’s a challenge, but as a result of everything, mom and daughter have a seriously tight and special bond.
5 Weeks To Live
After his daughter, Jessica, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given just weeks to live, her dad, Andy Whelan took to social media to blog about his daughter’s plight and share images about the true face of cancer – what it looks like.
The cancer that had ravaged Jessica’s body was neuroblastoma, a cancer that she’d been battling for 13 months. But it was stealing her childhood and had progressed to stage four cancer, and Jessica wasn’t getting any better, so Andy and his partner stopped the treatment so she could enjoy what little time she had left in relative peace and comfort.
They stand by their decision to stop treatment, as Jessica couldn’t cope and was crying out in pain. There was also nothing more the doctors could do.
Andy then took to social media, regularly posting heart-wrenching pictures and updates in an effort to capture every moment he had left with his little one and raise awareness of the pain and devastation of childhood cancer, which judging from all the responses to his pictures and blog posts, it’s certainly done.
4 Intensive Chemo
Melbourne-based comedian, Andrew Brown, certainly didn’t have anything to smile about after his daughter, Hayley’s long battle with cancer. It’s a tragic set of circumstances, but one thing that he might be smiling about is his little girl’s resilience – her fight during those tough times.
Doctors discovered that Hayley had cancer after finding a five-centimetre growth – a tumor growing in her nose. The prognosis wasn’t good, but Hayley responded to the intensive chemotherapy treatment. It shrunk the tumor, but there’s more bouts of chemo and radiation treatments still to come.
During the intensive treatment, everyone at the hospital kept commenting on how beautiful Hayley’s eyelashes were. However, they too fell out, in addition to her hair, during the treatment, apart from one long eyelash which held on for a few weeks.
During the treatment, dad Andrew was doing comedy gigs in order to raise funds for the hospital treatments – amazing he could even make any sort of gag whilst his daughter was in that predicament – but he had to do what he had to do for his family.
3 “The Boy Who Lived”
This is a survival story that will bring tears to your eyes.
Nadine Shelley was remarkably only 23 weeks into her pregnancy when doctors discovered complications and told her that it was in her and the baby’s best interests for her to have an abortion, because the chance of the baby surviving when born would be incredibly low – 15% chance of survival. The problem was that there was no amniotic fluid – essential for protecting the baby – surrounding the baby in the uterus, and so doctors gave her unborn son little or no chance of survival. But Nadine bore no notice and was determined to give birth to a healthy baby boy. “I personally did not feel like it was my decision to decide whether or not Brayden had the strength or capability to live – Brayden would decide that,” she said. Well, Brayden decided he was going to fight and fight he did. Nadine, although never at risk of dying, also had to fight – she bled almost every single day in her second trimester, sometimes bleeding scary amounts. But six months on, Brayden’s a happy, healthy baby and is doing just fine – the boy who lived.
2 Baby Fights Till The End
Alissa Silva's son Mason, died after a losing battle fighting leukemia in 2014. Alissa then put together a heart-wrenching video which she posted on social media – a tribute to her son and discussing childhood cancer. The video certainly touched a lot of people and raised plenty of awareness – it was viewed over 19 million times.
Little Mason Silva had a seriously tough start in life. At just five and a half months old, he was diagnosed with leukemia and also developed myelodysplastic syndrome – abnormal blood cells in the bone marrow. He battled on for seven months, until a few weeks before his first birthday, until his little body couldn’t take any more. Of course, Alissa was utterly devastated, but was determined to raise awareness about cancer in children. The video she posted was seriously tough to watch, and Alissa herself was fighting back emotion, just as everyone else watching the clip probably was too.
1 Cancer Rips Apart Family
This is a story that got everyone weeping when it was told during the UK’s Stand Up To Cancer show in 2016. And as if one heartbreaking story of a family losing a beloved member to cancer wasn’t bad enough, it was a double whammy – truly tragic.
The Keville family went through hell and back over the course of a tumultuous five-year period. Mark told the story; his wife, Kate, found a lump in her breast, went to the doctor to get it checked out, had three years of treatment – despite only being given six weeks to live - but tragically died in 2011. Their son at the time, Robbie, was only six years old at the time, but he understood what was going on. He vowed to become a doctor when he grew up to help cure cancer and help people like his mommy. But he never got that opportunity; two years later it was discovered he had a brain tumor. The treatment worked, for a period, but the cancer came back, and this time it was terminal. From then on, Robbie’s health rapidly declined, and he died at his family home in the presence of his dad and two siblings.
Robbie remained positive and upbeat to the last and was an inspiration to everyone around him. His older brother, sister and dad are now heavily involved in spreading cancer awareness and raising money for research.