A Co Derry mum has told of her son’s devastating battle with leukaemia after he died at just 17.
Ozzie Rogers from Knockloughrim in Magherafelt was only 15-years-old when he started to feel ill, becoming ‘very tired and pale’, initially suspecting it to be glandular fever.
One Saturday, after a rugby training session, his mum Miranda said she came off the pitch saying it was ‘the best game ever.’
But just four days later after a match, he said: “I don’t know what’s the matter with me, I just don’t feel very well, I’m really short of breath”.
The next morning the glands in his neck were swollen and he had flu-like symptoms.
Miranda then took him back to the doctors to have his bloods done and was told to take him straight to A&E.
The Rogers family.
Ozzie was admitted on the October 8, 2018, and the following morning he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
The teen had to spend the next three months in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children receiving chemotherapy, but it did not work as well as hoped.
Miranda said: “He developed a fungal infection in his lungs, sickness, and constant temperatures. He also suffered moderate heart damage, and lost 17kg in weight.
“With chemotherapy not being an option, the doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant. So, on Christmas Eve, Ozzie had a bone marrow aspiration and lumbar puncture to check his bone marrow.
“My husband, myself, and Ozzie’s younger brother, Luke, were devastated that none of us were a match for him, so we had to hope a search of the registry could find a match. We were over the moon to find out a couple of months later that Ozzie was fortunate to get an unrelated match.”
The family travelled over to Bristol for Ozzie’s bone marrow transplant in March 2019, coming out the other side and getting home just after his 16th birthday.
“He started back to school and repeated some GCSEs, because he’d missed most of a year of schooling.
“Ozzie was doing really well, he was going back to the gym. He was working with a personal trainer to get him back into fitness because he was keen into his rugby and liked his sports.
“He was back playing his guitar. Ozzie was a talented guitarist and he loved rock music. He used to hear a rock tune and just pick up the guitar and just play it. He was never musically trained, he just played by ear.
“Then in April 2020, just at the beginning of lockdown, Ozzie relapsed.
“We got transferred over from the Children’s Hospital to Belfast City Hospital because by the time Ozzie got admitted he was coming 17. He was in the City Hospital for six weeks initially, for another chemotherapy to see if it would fight the leukaemia again. But sadly, it didn’t work,” Miranda added.
After months in hospital with only one parent being able to stay, blood transfusions and palliative treatment, Ozzie became very unwell in August and readmitted to hospital with pain in his lungs and a high temperature.
The Rogers family were given the devastating news that Ozzie was seriously unwell, with his dad Simon being able to come and stay close to the hospital.
They both cared for their son until he died on September 10 of this year, aged 17.
Miranda, Luke, Simon and Ozzie.
The family have said how much Cancer Fund for Children helped and support Ozzie with his time of the ward, including charity specialists Helen Patterson and Hannah Farrell who supported the whole family.
They also enjoyed a break as a family at the charity’s therapeutic short break centre, Daisy Lodge – which Miranda described as a “fantastic facility” and “so badly needed”.
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Miranda added: “We would have been lost without Helen and Hannah to be quite honest. Helen just always seemed to appear at a time when Ozzie was at his lowest. Cancer Fund for Children is a very special charity, they build up a relationship with your child and that relationship becomes like a friendship. They’re not just a client, they become friends.
“We’ll never forget how the charity helped bring Ozzie some joy throughout his cancer journey. We were so lucky to have their support through the pandemic.”
To donate to the charity or find out more, click here.