Heidi Redford

After giving birth to her second daughter, Heidi began to experience night sweats and was overwhelmed with fatigue. A few months later, Heidi was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and was unable to work, resulting in her and her husband struggling to care for their family of four. Here, she tells her story…

“In March 2021, I gave birth to my second daughter, Isabella. Six months after her birth, I remember saying to my husband I felt tired a lot of the time. But, like many other parents of young children would, we thought nothing of it and put it down to the fact I was awake most nights feeding and taking care of Isabella.

Just a couple of weeks later, I began waking up at night drenched in sweat. I couldn’t work out why this was, and I thought it may be down to hormones, so I just carried on with my normal routine. In early October, I began noticing small bruises popping up all over my arms and legs. As I began to realise some of the bruises weren’t going away, I decided to contact my doctor for an appointment. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time, I had a telephone appointment with my GP and I had to send pictures of my bruises. Two days later, I had a blood test. Once bloods had been taken, I received another phone call that night, telling me to pack an overnight bag and to go straight to A&E. The next day I had a bone marrow biopsy; I wasn’t told a lot, but it was understood that I had some sort of blood disease. On Monday 25th October 2021, my consultant and two other nurses came to deliver the news. I squeezed my best friend’s hand as they confirmed I had acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Those seconds they took to tell me seemed to last forever.

Over the next couple of days, I had antibiotics, antifungal medication and a PICC line inserted. I became ill very quickly and I was on oxygen as I was struggling to breathe; those days became a blur. It seemed like I was having endless X-rays, CT and MRI scans. I also had an endoscopy as they thought I may have had pneumonia. When I eventually came around, I was very delirious and unable to figure out where I was. I had no strength; I couldn’t walk, talk, write or even hold myself up. I had a feeding tube, tracheostomy tube and a catheter to help. But, over the next couple of weeks, the tubes began being removed and physiotherapy began. This mummy just wanted to get home to her husband and children, so the hard work started! Soon (with help) I was able to walk.

As a result of my diagnosis and treatment, my husband Joe and I had to stop working. We began to struggle financially and it was becoming increasingly expensive as the cost of living crisis began to worsen. I had been visiting the hospital for check-ups every two weeks, but as we lived over two hours away plus the parking charges, it was costing us an extra £70 a month. It was an extra expense that we found difficult to afford. Not only was it the travel costs which has caused us financial concerns but the general day-to-day cost of gas, electricity and even food shopping, which has gone up dramatically. We were finding ourselves only able to afford one of these expenses for our family of four. Joe now works part-time, but it is still difficult to manage finances. 

We applied for the Leukaemia Care’s Cost of Living with Leukaemia Fund in hope it could help cover some of our expenses. We put the money towards both our gas and travel bills which had helped us alleviate some of the costs for a month. I am now currently in remission as a result of two rounds of chemotherapy. My aim now for 2023 is to build up my physical strength and to start making more memories that we’ve missed out on. I would also love to take part in some fundraising for the ward I was on.”

Do you agree that more financial support is needed for leukaemia patients?

Click the button below to sign our petition to improve financial support for leukaemia patients and the wider cancer community.

Sign the petition

Are you struggling with the rising cost of living and need some support? Visit our cost of living hub for advice here.

If you would like to speak to a member of our support services team, call our helpline for free on 08088 010 444 or email support@leukaemiacare.org.uk.

#LifeVsLivelihood social media graphics

Support our campaign and download our #LifeVsLivelihood graphics below.

Read More