My brother, Jonjo, was a similar age to Vickie when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in December 2006, he was 23. He was also treated at Worcester Royal Hospital where Vickie was and was also under the care of Dr. Clark. On first being diagnosed I remember feeling quite angry and emotional when we were told that Jonjo would have to hear news of his illness and treatment without us in the room with him. I begged the consultant to allow my Dad or brother or even my over-reactive, wailing banshee (at the time) self-go in with him! I can remember it being explained that Jonjo was an adult and had the right to the privacy of being able to ask any questions he may have, alone. Reluctantly, I gave in. I know now it was the emotion of the time that caused my hysteria but do understand, and did almost straight after, that they were right. My brother watched through the crack in the blinds to gauge Jonjo’s reaction to what he was being told. There were lots of nods between Jonjo and the doctor and lip reading of the word “okay” which was reassuring to us, his family. We were never kept in the dark about anything and we were able, at any time, to ask whatever we wanted to and I always felt that time was given to us to do this, despite the severity of the situation and the need to move quickly. I can also vividly remember feeling that the doctors were very cold and almost, dare I say it, unfeeling.
My Dad commented to me about the apparent lack of bedside manner of a couple of doctors. I have had time to reflect since then and take back my comment in light of the fact that these doctors and consultants are employed as the best in their field, as specialists in the world of haematology and blood disorders, including the awful disease that is Leukaemia. They are giving the facts of treatment on a daily basis and have to deliver the worst possible news to families and patients at times. For this to even be possible the facts are all that are required. We, as a family of a leukaemia sufferer were shocked to be told how poorly our loved one was and can empathise with the family of Vickie Harvey but it seems that they are looking for an outlet for their grief in partitioning blame to someone whose job is to give the facts, however hard they may be to take. Mr and Mrs Harvey called Dr Clark “heartless” and her manner “bulling and overbearing” which we never found her to be. The saddest, hardest to bear part of this story; the real tragedy is that this poor girl with a whole life in front of her ended up with this terrible illness in the first place and the fact that it claimed her life. This disease that discriminates against no one, young and old, rich and poor, with no possible way of preventing it is the real villain.
My heart goes out to the family of Vickie Harvey and I sincerely hope they find comfort in the beautiful memories they have of their daughter.
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