Holly delighted to be home after spending six months in hospital

Holly Ralph was shocked to be diagnosed with cancer and has spent months away from home – now she can visit in between chemotherapy appointments

When Holly was admitted to hospital in February, a scan on her broken leg revealed she had cancer.

For the past six months, 16 year old Holly, from Sloothby, has been battling osteosarcoma – a cancer that starts in the cells that form bones. The teen had been suffering with a pain in her leg prior to the break, but believed it was growing pains. It was in fact a tumour. After spending four months undergoing chemotherapy in Nottingham City Hospital, Holly was transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) for an 11 hour operation to remove the tumour. In the process of the surgery, Holly’s knee was also removed and then rebuilt with metal. Following the operation, Holly spent two nights in intensive care but never faced this journey alone as her mum, Sadie, was able to stay at Crawford House.

After being discharged from intensive care in Newcastle, Holly returned to Nottingham for further chemotherapy and has recently been allowed to return home in between courses. Reflecting on their time in hospital, mum, Sadie, said:

“We thought that Holly was fine and that it was just growing pains, so it was a huge shock when we found out that she had osteosarcoma and had to start receiving chemotherapy as soon as possible.

“The majority of Holly’s treatment has been in Nottingham and I have been able to stay with her. However, when we were told we’d need to go to Newcastle I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep next to her as she’d be in intensive care. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably have to sleep in a chair in the hospital. I did try to do that one night in Nottingham and I fell off in the middle of the night. I wasn’t too keen to repeat that experience, plus I needed to get some rest to stay strong for Holly.

“A kind nurse on the ward at the RVI put me in touch with Crawford House, a ‘Home from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust. Andrew, the House Manager, came to pick me up from the ward to show me around. It’s a truly lovely house with all the amenities that make a house a home. I could do some much-needed washing and have a comfortable place to rest. I only needed to stay in the ‘Home from Home’ for two nights and it was such a relief. I can imagine that for families who need this service for weeks, or months, it is an incredible weight off their shoulders to know that they have somewhere to stay, free of charge, that they can cook their own food in, or have some space to relax and watch some TV.

“We have recently been able to spend some time at home, which was something we’d been looking forward to for a very long time. Holly has been quite poorly but is recovering well from her operation and has started her next 18 weeks of chemo.”

The Sick Children’s Trust runs ten ‘Homes from Home’, giving families with a seriously ill child in hospital a place to stay. This year, Crawford House is celebrating 25 years of keeping families together by their child’s hospital bedside. Opened in 1996, The Sick Children’s Trust ‘Home from Home’ has supported over 12,000 families, like Holly’s. Andrew Leadbitter, Crawford House Manager, said:

“Crawford House is there to keep families together when their child is seriously ill in hospital, and this is exactly what it did for Sadie and Holly. Many families over the years have used Crawford House as their ‘Home from Home’ and it has meant that they can be just a stone’s throw away from their loved one, giving them one less thing to worry about.”

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