We have been following the journey of three-year-old JOSEPH DEVANEY from Morecambe as he battles leukaemia. Reporter GREG LAMBERT spoke to Joseph’s mum Lindsay to find out how the brave tot has been coping with his illness over the past few months.
July 7 was a milestone date for the Devaney family.
Little Joseph was finally allowed home from the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital which had been his home since he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in March.
But while Joseph has been allowed to go home and his long-term prognosis is good, his treatment will continue for quite some time yet.
He has to return to Manchester every Thursday for physiotherapy and take chemotherapy medicine every day.
His parents Leon and Lindsay also have to monitor him all the time.
Joseph had a scare a few weeks after he returned home and was rushed back into hospital.
“We went in because he had a temperature, he was weary and had tummy pain, and he ended up being in for four weeks,” said Lindsay.
“His temperature was 39-40 during the day and then one night it plummeted to 35. His blood pressure went right down. It was quite scary. He was like that for a few days.”
Doctors were worried that Joseph would suffer another perforated bowel. This had already happened during his previous stay in hospital, leading to emergency four-hour surgery which saved his life.
“They wanted to avoid surgery this time at all costs so he had to go on gut rest for eight days,” said Lindsay.
“That was awful. I really wanted to feed him but I couldn’t.”
Thankfully, Joseph recovered and on September 4, he came home again.
“He’s doing well now,” said Lindsay. “Sometimes you will give him a hug and he will start crying and he will say you’re hugging him too hard.
“He’s done quite well without his walking frame. We’ve had hand rails put in and a ramp so he can get about, although his leg still keeps giving out on him.
“But he’s such a special little boy. He’s really getting into his Ben 10 (children’s c artoon) and Marvel Avengers, and he loves his Xbox.
“He knows all the names of his medicines and can write his own name, and write ‘dad’ and ‘mum’.
“He’s proud that he’s so brave. Every now and again he will come to me and say, ‘I’m a brave boy, aren’t I mummy?’ And I say, ‘Yes, you’re the bravest boy I know’.”
The Devaneys have been given a huge amount of support to help them settle back into some semblance of normal family life.
“Plas-Tech came and fitted a wide double glazed door, the paint and decorating firm that sponsors Leon’s football team came and decorated our new house, B&Q donated laminate flooring for the front room...we’ve had so much support it’s unreal,” said Lindsay.
One family friend who has helped the Devaneys is Mark McCorriston, who runs Morecambe firm Mobility Linx Ltd.
Mark donated £500 to the family when he read about Joseph’s plight in The Visitor.
“As a father myself, my heart goes out to Joseph,” said Mark.
“I’ve known Leon for a while and when you hear stories like Joseph’s and you’re in a position to, you like to try to help.”
A charity night held at the Queens on Morecambe promenade in June also raised more than £1,500 for the Joseph’s Journey appeal.
“There’s so much good in this world and you don’t normally get to hear about it,” said Lindsay.
“The community have pulled together to help a little boy that they don’t know and it’s so overwhelming. I’m so grateful.”
The Trimpell Club is hosting a soul night on Saturday, October 4 in aid of Joseph’s Journey. Called ‘Putting the Soul Back Into Morecambe’, the night of Northern Soul runs from 8pm to 3am and includes DJs Tony Crookes, Paul Johnson and Tim Curry. Admission £5.