Brave toddler battling leukaemia tells parents of 'lonely' hospital stays during lockdown

Brave Archie Galloway marks childhood Cancer Awareness month by launching Give Up Clothes for Good campaignBrave Archie Galloway marks childhood Cancer Awareness month by launching Give Up Clothes for Good campaign
Brave Archie Galloway marks childhood Cancer Awareness month by launching Give Up Clothes for Good campaign
A toddler battling leukaemia has been telling his parents about his lonely hospital stays during covid as strict rules in lockdown meant he could not even play with toys.

Archie Galloway, aged three, became sick in November last year with symptoms of tonsillitis which didn't seem to clear up, and a loss of appetite and extreme tiredness.

Worried parents Andi, 43, and Lisa, 42, from West Lothian noticed the tot was so ill on Christmas Day he could barely lift his head off the sofa or open his presents.

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Mum-of-two Lisa stayed at home with Archie's younger sister, Leah, now aged one, while firefighter Andi took their little boy to St John's hospital in Livingston on Boxing Day.

Primary school teacher Lisa said: "Archie went from a high energy boy to being unable to climb the stairs. On Christmas day, Archie could barely lift his head off the couch. He definitely wasn't right so Andi took Archie into St John's hospital in Livingston. I was at home looking after our daughter Leah when I got a phonecall from Andi. I expected him to say that Archie was OK and it was just a bad case of tonsillitis. But I could tell straight away from the sound of Andi's voice that he was upset. Tests had shown up what the doctor described as a blood disorder.

Medics suspected he might have a blood disorder but the next day he was blue-lighted to a hospital in Edinburgh. The family's life was turned upside down a few months later when doctors at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in the capital diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

It had been initially thought he had severe aplastic anaemia which was stopping his immune system from working properly. Archie seemed to slowly improve after blood transfusions and antibiotics to treat the infections that were attacking his body. But by March further tests showed Archie faced a battle with cancer.

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Both his parents wanted to be there for him every step of the way. But as the coronavirus safety restrictions tightened after the March 23 nationwide lockdown, only one parent was allowed to stay by his bedside in hospital while the other waited anxiously at home for updates. His parents described this year as the hardest of their lives, as they struggled to cope with their sociable boy talking about his 'lonely' hospital stays.

In April, treatment was delayed after Archie got pneumonia. He had surgery to flush his right lung with a saline solution and help his recovery which took a fortnight.

Lisa said: "Archie would ask, 'what's wrong with my body?' When we were in hospital over Christmas, Archie's dad and I were both there to support Archie and each other. But when Covid 19 hit Scotland this spring, the hospital rules changed and only one parent could stay with each child.

"The toy room closed and you had to isolate in one room. It was a strange, worrying and lonely time. Archie would say to us, 'everything is closed because of covid'. He's a sociable boy and he missed going to toddler group to see friends. But we couldn't believe how many people in the community actually pulled together to help us."

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Archie is now facing three years of treatment and has lost his hair due to chemotherapy. It is hoped he will start maintenance chemotherapy in September, keeping him in remission before starting school in 2022.

Station commander Andi, who shaved his hair off to support his son, said: "Archie never fails to amaze us. This year has been the hardest year of our lives. We have down days and moments when we just think, how are we here? But Archie's incredible bravery and resilience, even during the most difficult times in 2020 has kept us going. He knows he has leukaemia and he's getting medicine to make it better. The doctors have been brilliant.

"They made it very clear from day one that they're working towards an achievable goal of curing Archie. We went from the desperation of first hearing the word cancer to hope.

"The doctors told us they had a plan A, plan B and plan C."

Archie is now fronting a campaign for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People and TK Maxx Give Up Clothes for Good.

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