How much heartache and anguish can one family bear?
That was the question on devastated Karen Ledsham’s lips after her 11-year-old son was diagnosed with bone cancer - less than six years after her daughter succumbed to an ultra-rare disease.
Legh Vale Primary School pupil Harrison Ledsham, of Liverpool Road, Haydock, was diagnosed with an osteosarcoma tumour above his left knee just weeks after doctors had put the discomfort he was experiencing down to growing pains.
His little sister, Abigail, lost her brave battle with Sandhoff’s Disease - a degenerative condition which rendered her unable to see, drink, eat or even breathe by herself - in October 2008, days before her second birthday.
Mum Karen, 41, said: “We were in shock when we found out. We’ve not been the luckiest family. I know it sounds awful but we almost wish this had happened to someone else instead.
“I think we’re even more stressed at the moment because of what happened with Abigail. Going back to Alder Hey was difficult for us all. Being back there just brought all the emotions flooding back.
“But Harrison’s a tough lad and we’ve told him he needs to have a positive attitude to tackle this head-on. We’ve got a battle on our hands again but he will beat it - he has to beat it.”
Harrison, a talented sportsman and musician who plays both the piano and the French horn, had been suffering pain in his leg for several weeks.
When it didn’t get any better with rest, he went to hospital for an x-ray and a second opinion was sought from experts in Birmingham.
The results of a biopsy then led to the cancer diagnosis and Harrison was called in to Alder Hey to start an intensive course of chemotherapy the very next day.
Once the initial 10 weeks of chemo are up, Harrison, who plays junior rugby for Blackbrook and is due to start senior school at Haydock High in September, will undergo an operation to remove the tumour before undergoing a further 16 weeks of chemo.
Karen, a nurse, added: “The treatment has to be very intense because it’s an aggressive form of cancer. Harrison says he’s determined to kick cancer’s butt! We’re still trying to get him into school a few afternoons a week but this has knocked him for six.”