I always struggled to watch adverts on TV about families being told their loved ones had cancer. Never really knowing how it must feel to hear those words; but now I don't have to imagine because it's our reality.
As of 12th December 2016 we became one of those families you hear about. We were told that our precious little boy had Neuroblastoma- a rare childhood cancer affecting fewer than 100 children in the U.K. each year.
As tests promptly started each piece of news seemed more devastating. I still find it hard to see Reuben's name on paperwork next to the words: stage 4, high risk, metastatic neuroblastoma. As in 50% of cases of this aggressive type of cancer, his primary tumour was found in his abdomen but had already spread to bones and bone marrow before we had any idea.
Just weeks before he had played alongside friends at birthday parties and attended pre-school like every other happy 2 year old who was really looking forward to Father Christmas visiting.
He spent his 3rd birthday and New Year's Day in hospital, has undergone MRI scans, bone marrow and tumor biopsies, a blood and platelet transfusion, two rounds of chemotherapy to name but a few procedures. There are lots of tears. Too many tears. Every single day.
His journey has just started. Everyone we have encountered working in our amazing NHS are doing their very best to help our little boy. But the statistics make for grim reading and there will come a time, we hope, when he will be in remission and eligible for further treatment not yet available in this country.
The numbers are just that, only numbers. And I have so much hope that Reuben will beat this horrible disease and live the life of a happy, cheeky little boy again. He's already taught me not to underestimate him- lots of it he doesn't like, but his smile soon returns and reminds me every time why we are doing this.
We have been overwhelmed by love, thoughts and prayers from so many people. There is no doubt that he is one very loved little boy.
Over the next year we will be turning our attention to fundraising efforts to help raise funds for overseas treatment once he is in remission. The initial costs for this are anticipated to be £250,000.
Thank you so much for reading his story so far. Please help us do everything we can to make it a survivor story he can tell in the future.
Thank you so much for your support
Jessica & Kulwant Virdee xxx
We have been inundated with well wishes, THANK-YOU! Reuben's operation was a success and the surgeon is happy and confident that she managed to remove the whole tumour from his abdomen. It took less than 5 hours in the end so think I had been prepared for worst case scenario. He had an epidural to numb any pain in his torso and will continue to have this for the next few days.
He will forever wear a warrior wound of about 12cm from this op. In addition, they inserted a gastrostomy so he no longer has to worry about his nasal tube coming out, a catheter and cannula, all in addition to his Hickman line, so at the moment he's full of wires and tubes. But he's comfortable and pain free and that's all that matters.
His 'beads of courage' are ever growing; a bead given to mark every procedure he goes through as part of his treatment. The red star on the right hand side signifies his surgery. Overwhelming to see so visually everything he's been through from injections, dressing changes, blood transfusions, general anesthetics, scans and many more.
There's still a long road ahead, but for now we are taking a deep breath and feeling grateful to everyone who has helped him reach this next milestone.
Lots of love xxxxxx
Made the most of every second with Reuben who was on his feet all day today hunting dinosaurs at Osterly Park.
We're really anxious about Reuben's surgery on Wednesday and have been told to expect a 10 hour operation and 1-3 week stay in hospital depending on recovery. I know it will mean another milestone reached but I feel sick at the thought of not being by his side for such a long time. And being separated from Hari as we juggle family and work life.
Will keep you posted as and when we can. Thanks, as always, for your support and love xxx
Wish we could stop time and thank each and every one of you for all that you have done and are doing to support our little superhero.
Long may there be more sunny, happy, ice cream fueled days ahead for this little lion cub xxxxxx
I'm trying to stay focused on this gorgeous little face to get me through the times he screams, cries and tells me he hates me I've been told these are common side effects of chemo that affects even the most angelic of children. His behavior has been increasingly erratic and it's always hard to tell if it's typical toddler meltdowns or an affect of the toxic drugs he's been pumped with over the last four months. Probably a combination of both.
We are trying to do 'normal' things and make the most of sunny hospital free days but it's difficult when he gets so anxious to leave the house.
Thank goodness for our good friends who we can pour our hearts, and tears, out to.
There have been lots of times this year where I've said he's not my little boy anymore. I hate that cancer is stealing him from us. We're all fighting to get the happy, carefree and cheeky Reuben back.
Thanks for all your love and support xxx
WE are so terribly sorry that you Reuben and your family are experiencing this horrible horrible situation! We are thinking of you and praying for you every single day! Since coming across your story i cant stop think about it! Its heartbreaking and such a gorgeous little boy doesn't deserve this! You are all so beautiful and we are so sorry for the pain you are going through! DEAR GOD .... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KEEP HIM SAFE GIVE HIM HIS LIFE BACK AND TELL THE CANCER TO GO TO HELL! Sending all of our love !! xx
I am soooooo happy to hear this news. Keep the FAITH! sending much love xxx
Hi there I am sandy Virdee's niece and have friends who want to organise a run to raise funds in Brussels. Can you let me know how to proceed with this or how they can link their efforts to this page? Thanks Trish
Hi Reuben my prayer is that God takes this illness and bring healing in your life so that you can be a insparation to others across the world as well as to let the world know the power of prayers. God bless and keep you safe and sound. Your friend. Mark Daniels from Cape Town, S.Africa.