Although Anthony was very ill during all of the chemotherapy cycles he still kept his sense of humour. He decided to be sponsored for having his head shaved and various other fund raising events were organised by family and friends.In December 2001 he completed his chemotherapy and handed over a cheque for £3000 to Cancer Research.
Anthony had the tumour removed from his leg in June 2001 but that eventually resulted in him spending most of his time in a wheelchair as he could not bend his leg and was not strong enough to walk on crutches or with a frame.
In April 2002, we discovered that the cancer had spread to Anthony's lungs and he started treatment again. On 8th July we were told that the treatment was not working and that we should stop the drugs so that Anthony would feel better for a while. We had a week at Futuroscope in France at the end of August/beginning of September. Futuroscope is a type of theme park, which is mainly cinemas, so he was able to enjoy most of the attractions from his wheelchair. The memories of that holiday will stay with me forever.
At the end of September, Anthony and I went to Birmingham for the weekend to attend Games Day at the Indoor Arena. This event is organised every year by Games Workshop and Anthony had been for the two previous years. The warhammer models gave Anthony a lot of pleasure, as he was able to make and paint them from both his bed and his chair. We had a wonderful weekend and Anthony bought more things for his collection.
Just over a week after that trip, Anthony died. It was 8th October, exactly three months after the doctors had told us that he was terminally ill. The funeral was held a week later on 15th October and was attended by over 200 people. It sounds a silly thing to say, but the funeral was a lovely occasion. It showed me just how many people Anthony had touched during his short life.
Anthony will always be remembered for his sense of humour, his strength and his courage. He tackled every new problem without any self-pity and even managed to give me the strength I needed to care for him. Over the last few months of his life, Anthony had been seeing a spiritual healer. It was something that he had asked to do and he saw her every week with the exception of the week we were in France. He never expected her to perform any miracles but no matter how he felt he always insisted on seeing her and was always happier when he had been to her. He gained a lot from Linda and I am sure that her input helped him to deal with his death in the calm and peaceful way that he did. Anthony became poorly on the Sunday and was worse on the Monday. During Monday night he could not sleep but was not really awake either. He was lying in his bed and I was sitting at his side, when he said to me 'I am sitting on that chair over there and watching us' he went on to say ' There is a lady here but I don't know who she is'. At that point I think I realised that he was about to die, but because he was so calm, I remained calm also and just sat there holding his hand. A couple of minutes later he said 'I can't do this anymore' I asked him what he meant and he replied 'any of it'. I told him to close his eyes and go to sleep. He took two more breaths and said 'bye' and then stopped breathing. Throughout that night, he had remained calm, peaceful and showed no fear of what he must have realised was happening to him. He was such an amazing child to be able to cope with everything that he did without any fear and keeping his sense of humour throughout.
Knowing that Anthony was going to die was obviously very difficult to cope with but the time we had was so precious to both of us. As soon as Anthony was diagnosed, I stopped work and spent all of my time caring for him and trying to care for Katie who has learning difficulties. It was a very difficult 18 months but also a wonderful time, because I had the time to really develop the relationship between us. I obviously wish that the outcome had been different and would have done anything to change it but I will always be grateful for that 18 months I had with Anthony. I gained so much from the relationship we developed over that time and I am sure he did as well. We gained strength from each other and that is what is keeping me going through the very difficult time that I face now.
I am so proud to have been the mother of such a special young man and although I am not a religious person, I really do thank God for letting me be Anthony's mother. My ex-husband and I adopted Katie when she was a year old as we had been told, after 10 years of trying, that it was extremely unlikely that we would have any children of our own. Less than two years later, I gave birth to Anthony. He really was a gift!