KIRA Noble will join an Edinburgh mum whose son died of leukaemia to meet the First Minister in a bid to secure backing for a cancer awareness campaign.
After the death of her three-year-old son Kai in 2016, Pamela Laidlaw has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer through her Glow Gold campaign. She will be joined by teenager Kira and mum Aud when she meets Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to discuss the campaign this week.
Pamela said: “As our young ambassador, Kira has been desperate to help in any way she can which is amazing considering what she’s been through. The campaign is not just about parents but about the children that will be helped through it.”
Kira, 15, is still receiving treatment for neuroblastoma after returning from New York where she underwent pioneering surgery to remove a tumour. She is currently waiting for a new treatment plan after doctors discovered a lesion on her pancreas.
The main aim of Glow Gold, set up by Pamela and other Edinburgh mums affected by childhood cancer, is to provide information cards detailing symptoms of cancer that would be included in every child’s personal health record.
Pamela hopes that one day the cards might be one of the items sent out to new parents in the baby boxes provided by the Scottish Government.
She said: “Knowledge is power and the cards will empower parents with information. For us to be able to say to the First Minister and the Health Secretary that Kira wasn’t a statistic and she’s here because she wants to be heard. We’re advocates who will fight ferociously for every child.”
Arming parents with information they can use if their child falls ill is vital, says Pamela: “Doctors do a fantastic job but they only get seven minutes to diagnose. We don’t want to scare parents, we want to give them tools to be able to identify what might be happening.”
When Pamela sensed that her infant son was sick she took him to different medical practitioners trying to get to the bottom of it. She said: “I took him to the doctor and drop-in centres. I love to have knowledge and I was reading everything. My instincts were telling me he was really poorly but I was being told he had the beginnings of a cold. I knew something wasn’t right and not one piece of information or literature pointed me to the signs of leukaemia.”
Pamela hopes that one day the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer will be as well known as those for meningitis. She said: “Kai had a very aggressive form of cancer and in the grand scheme of things having the prior knowledge might not have helped. I will always think how could I have not known? What more could I have done?”
With support from the government the awareness cards can be made and dispersed as soon as possible.
Pamela said: “Kai’s life is a massive loss but his life mattered and I have to make his death count.”