A Teesside mum’s book detailing her family’s journey through her own Mum’s six month battle with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia praised North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust staff for their outstanding care.
The book titled ‘I Stand Amazed’ is written by Antonia Chapman-Jones, a thirty five year old teacher from Stockton. The book originates from a blog written by Antonia to express her feelings as her mum Dee underwent treatment at The University Hospital of North Tees for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 2013.
Prior to diagnosis, Dee was treated for bowel cancer after she and husband Ian signed up to the bowel cancer screening programme run by the Trust. Following successful treatment at the University Hospital of North Tees, Dee and Ian enjoyed a well-earned break setting sail on a three week cruise around Europe.
The weekend after returning from holiday, as an active member of St Mary’s Church in Longnewton Dee was gardening as part of a restoration project. Following this Ian noticed an unexplained bruise across her back. The next morning Dee found a multitude of blood blisters in her mouth and subsequent bloods tests revealed that further investigation was needed.
Dee was rushed into the haematology ward at the University Hospital of North Tees and that’s when Dee and her family were given the devastating news that she had acute myeloid leukaemia. At the time Antonia was two months into maternity leave with her second daughter Alba, so managing family commitments, caring for Mum, supporting family and friends became increasingly strained. It was at this point that Antonia decided to write her blog.
Antonia said: “It was extremely difficult to talk about everything that was going on at the time. My mum was a very active member of the community and a leading figure of St Mary’s Church in Longnewton. Understandably, everyone wanted to know how she was. That’s when I decided to write the blog as it was the easiest way to keep everyone up to date, I would post the blog on Facebook and that’s how it all began. My Mum read the blog and told me to write the book to raise money for Bloodwise UK. ”
Antonia praised the staff at The University Hospital of North Tees not only for their dedication professionally but also described the emotional support as above and beyond the call of duty. Two nurses in particular Janice Dunbar and Louise Trowell were singled out for incredible praise by the family.
Antonia said: “We literally couldn’t have done it without them, the care my family received from the hospital the staff, in particular Janice and Louise kept us all going. They were exceptional at their jobs, which is to be expected but they went over and above that for our family and at times like that it’s the little things that matter. Little things like staying back after shift until Mum fell asleep if we couldn’t be there, giving Mum ice lollies as that’s all she could stand because of the horrific mouth ulcers and also things like providing a sounding board for myself, Dad and our family. They really were truly amazing.”
Deputy Matron Janice Dunbar, a nurse at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for over thirty one years said: “Dee was an incredible lady who was very headstrong, kind and dignified throughout her treatment at the hospital. We have very fond memories of Dee, Antonia and the whole family. It can be extremely difficult to watch families go through such devastating situations. I feel very privileged to be able to provide support for families in the most desperate circumstances. I think the book is a fantastic idea and we wish Antonia every success in raising funds for such a worthwhile cause. I think Dee would be extremely proud.”
Dee sadly lost her battle on the 1st December 2013, six months to the day after her diagnosis. Exactly a year later Antonia wrote the final blog entry, which became her epilogue for the book ‘I Stand Amazed.’ In July 2018 Antonia received a publishing deal with her proceeds from sales of the book donated to Bloodwise UK, formerly Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, a UK cancer charity dedicated to beating blood cancers.
Antonia said: “The book is an accurate representation of how we felt at the time as a family. It’s a story of love and hope, through the book I hope to help others going through similar situations.”