Kieran Bradley Mallett was born on Sunday 3rd May 1998 at 11.16am in Colchester General Hospital, weighing a healthy 8lb 4oz, a second son for Adrian and Val and a little brother for Jamie.
At the age of 3, Kieran attended the Chase Nursery in Holland-On-Sea and from there went on to be a pupil at Holland Haven Primary School which he loved very much. Kieran was a very loving little boy who cared a lot for others; he mixed well and had lots of friends. He had a wonderful personality with a wicked sense of humour, an infectious laugh and a smile that would light up any room, beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair. Everyone who knew Kieran loved him.
On the weekend of December 11th 2005, when Kieran was 7 years old, we noticed his balance and co-ordination wasn’t right. He kept falling over a lot and at first we thought he was playing around, but being a mum I knew something was wrong. The next morning, 12th December, I took Kieran to school as usual and asked his teacher if they had noticed anything unusual about Kieran – they said they hadn’t but would keep an eye on him. I picked Kieran up from school at 3pm and his teacher said he had had problems doing his PE lesson and his writing had become spidery. I had made an appointment at 4pm to see our GP, who confirmed that something was wrong and would refer us to see a specialist, but as it was so close to Christmas, we probably wouldn’t get an appointment until the New Year.
Adrian and I were so worried we felt we couldn’t wait that long so we decided on the evening of Tuesday 13th December we would take Kieran to Colchester General Hospital A & E Department where he was seen by a lovely doctor who gave Kieran a thorough check up. The doctor noticed that one side of Kieran’s face was not working properly when he smiled; he said we needed to find out what was going on so booked Kieran in for an MRI scan for the next morning. The Doctor allowed us to take Kieran home for the night as he seemed fine in himself and still wanted to play and run around as normal.
Wednesday 14th December, we arrived back at the Hospital where Kieran had some balancing tests and a blood test before going for the MRI scan. It’s a very scary situation for a little one to have to go through, but Kieran was so brave with his little teddy under his arm, he stayed still for 25minutes and the nurses were really proud of him as they usually have to sedate the little ones to keep them still and calm. Once the scan was completed, Kieran was admitted to the Children’s ward. Kieran played in the playroom with his brother for a while and he also had a visit from the Colchester Football Referees who were giving out Christmas Presents to the poorly children. We were asked if we would have a photograph taken with the Referees for the local newspaper, which we agreed to as Kieran was very excited about being in the Paper. After an hour or so the doctor came over to us and asked if he could have a word as they had the results of the MRI scan. As Adrian and I walked into their staff room we seemed to know it wasn’t good news. The doctor sat us down and held my hand, she said “we are so sorry but Kieran has a brain stem tumour”. Adrian and I felt near to collapse - devastated, the worst news any parent should have to go through. After trying to get ourselves together, I asked what could be done. The Doctor said they had sent the Scans off by courier to Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge and were waiting for them to get back to him. We dried our eyes and went back to the ward to see Kieran; we decided not to tell Kieran at this point as we didn‘t want to frighten him. Everything felt so unreal. Kieran was feeling hungry as he hadn’t eaten nearly all day so the nurse brought him sausage and mash. After his dinner the doctor told us he would be transferring Kieran to Addenbrookes as they had a bed available for him. Adrian went home to collect some clothes for Kieran and me and in the meantime Kieran was started on a strong dose of steroids and anti reflux medicine to see if they could shrink the tumour. Adrian soon arrived back at the hospital after having to tell our family the terrible news. We gathered our belongings and made the long journey to Addenbrookes.
On arrival at Addenbrookes, Kieran was admitted to D2 ward. It was late by this time so Adrian & Jamie stayed until we were settled and then made the journey home. Kieran soon went off to sleep but I just laid awake holding Kieran’s hand all night worrying what might happen and the unknown.
The next morning 15th December, Adrian & Jamie arrived at the Hospital at about 10.30am. All Kieran seemed to be worrying about was that he might miss his Christmas Dinner at school bless him! We soon put a smile on his face when we said we would take him for a Burger King as they have one within the Hospital. Just after lunch Adrian and I had a chat with an Oncologist who said things didn’t seem very optimistic and we needed to talk with Mrs. Fernandes the Surgeon who would be seeing us on Friday. For the rest of the day Kieran played with his brother on the PS3, and in the playroom where he had a visit from the clowns – we had the whole show to ourselves! Kieran thought they were hilarious, we were all crying with laughter and it was nice for a short while to forget our worries. A little later that day a lady came from the Sick Children’s Trust to see us about a room that would be available to us to use in Acorn House, and we could have it from the next day onwards. We were so grateful as we could all be together as a family and Adrian didn’t have to keep making that long journey home. Acorn House is situated in the Grounds of Addenbrookes and provides accommodation for families with poorly children – it’s like a home from home.
Friday 16th December – Kieran and I woke up early, we had a bowl of cereal and a slice of toast before Kieran decided he would like to go and play with the Lego in the playroom. After about half an hour we went back to Kieran’s ward just as the Registrar was doing his ward rounds, he came over and had a chat with me on my own as Adrian and Jamie were on their way back to the Hospital. The Registrar said that Mrs. Fernandes was holding a meeting about Kieran in the afternoon, and they would like Adrian and I to be present as they would like to go through everything with us, he told me things didn’t seem very promising and Mrs. Fernandes would be open and honest with us. As he left the room I felt close to tears but held them back as I didn’t want to upset Kieran. I couldn’t wait for Adrian and Jamie to get there, I felt so alone and numb inside. Not long after Adrian & Jamie arrived. I just looked at Adrian and had to go out of the room to cry. I got myself together and explained to Adrian that we were having a meeting at 2pm with the Specialists; all we could do now was wait. At lunch time Kieran had a visit from his Auntie Christine and Nan Ena, we all went down to the restaurant and had some lunch. Kieran really enjoyed his tuna and sweetcorn baguette. After lunch we had a look around the shops in the hospital. Kieran’s Nan bought him a big car balloon; he was so pleased with it. Soon it was time to go back to the ward for our meeting. Kieran had a big kiss and cuddle from his Nan and Auntie and we waved goodbye to them. Adrian and I felt very emotional on the way back as we just didn’t know what the doctors were going to say to us.
At 2pm Adrian and I were taken into a meeting room where we met Mrs. Fernandes, the surgeon, Dr. Amos Burke, the Consultant Paediatric Oncologist and a couple of nurses. Mrs. Fernandes said she would be completely straight, she had gone through the scans that Kieran had had at Colchester Hospital, they had revealed that Kieran had a large tumour affecting his brain stem, which is the area of the brain that all the messages come from the left and right halves of the brain to control such functions as walking or moving of the arms as well as control of the muscles needed for speech and swallowing and vital functions such as breathing. She said they were rapidly growing aggressive tumours and that the current understanding of tumours in these sites is that sadly we have no effective treatment to cure them. She told us she would like to operate to take a biopsy but this would come at great risks – the worst thing being that Kieran could die on the operating table, or they could do nothing – just carry on with the steroids to try to shrink the tumour. But, whichever way you looked at it, the outcome would be the same. Kieran would become deaf, blind, be unable to breathe properly and wouldn’t be able to recognize us; they just couldn’t tell us how long this would go on for. We felt devastated; our whole world seemed to be falling apart. After asking lots of questions we decided to go ahead with the operation, we felt slightly relived that there was a small chance that something could be done for Kieran. Mrs. Fernandes said that as Kieran seemed himself we could take him home for the weekend, but he was to come back on Tuesday 21st December, she said it would be best for Kieran to stay in hospital that night as the nurses needed to sort out Kieran’s medication ready for us to take home in the morning.
Adrian Jamie and I decided it would be nice to have our Christmas a week early while Kieran was at home, because Kieran wouldn’t be feeling too good after his operation. Adrian and I went back to the ward to tell Kieran that we would be going home for the weekend, he was so excited. The lady from Acorn House came to give us our key so we thought it would be nice to all go and have a look at our room which was really nice and homely. While we were there we gave Kieran a nice bath and hair wash and then played a few games with Kieran and Jamie – it was a really nice relaxing afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the Hospital.
After a couple of hours we made our way back to the ward so Kieran could have his medication and then took Kieran and Jamie to Burger King for their tea. When we got back to the ward Kieran had a nice surprise when his cousin Charlotte and her husband Mark came to see him. Kieran couldn’t wait to show them his balloon which his Nan had bought him, and thought it very funny running up and down the corridor with it nearly knocking down the Christmas decorations!- the nurses couldn’t stop laughing at him. Kieran then thought it would be a good idea to play football in the playroom; we all had a really fun evening. Kieran was getting tired so we thought we would go back to the ward as it was nearly 10.00pm Charlotte & Mark said their goodbyes. Jamie and I gave Kieran a big kiss and a cuddle as Adrian was going to stay with Kieran that night – I said “I’ll be back in the morning before you wake up”.
Jamie and I made our way over to Acorn House to get some sleep. The next thing I knew was my phone was ringing- it was 5am - it was Adrian, he said “can you come now – Kieran’s not well, he has woken up crying with a really bad headache and he has been vomiting”. Jamie and I quickly got dressed and made our way over to the ward. By the time I had got there Kieran was unconscious, with lots of doctors around him. They told us they needed to do a CT scan to see what was going on. They told us it might be best to phone our families and tell them the situation - we knew this didn’t sound good. As they took Kieran away they told us to wait in the relatives’ room and as soon as they had any information they would come and let us know. In the mean time our families had arrived to give us some support. It seemed like ages that we had been waiting for some news. Soon a doctor came to tell us that Kieran had been taken to P.I.C.U. (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and we could go and see him. It was devastating to see him laying there with tubes and wires coming out of everywhere, we couldn’t believe this was happening! we should have been going home that day. To go from laughing and running around in the playroom last night to this seemed so unreal, it seemed like a really bad nightmare and we would wake up soon. Dr. Roddy O’Donnell the Paediatric Consultant for P.I.C.U. came to explain the situation, he took Adrian, myself, Jamie and our family to the relatives room. He said the reason for Kieran’s sudden deterioration was due to bleeding into the tumor and the surrounding tissues which they could see on the CT scan. He said that the magnitude of bleeding meant that recovery was not possible. We couldn’t believe it, we were all devastated - it was a very dark day for us all. The hardest part of all was deciding when to turn off the ventilator. We spent all day with Kieran, lying on the bed with him, telling him how much we loved him, talking to him about his family and all his friends, and everything he liked to do, hoping that he may be able to hear us. Adrian and I made the decision that we should turn off the ventilator about the time Kieran normally went to bed. In the meantime, the nurse allowed us to wash and dress Kieran - he didn’t like being in his pajamas during the day. We also put on his favourite red trainers.
As the time drew near the doctors tried to make things more comfortable for us and brought in a sofa so we could sit and hold Kieran. Adrian, Jamie and I sat and held Kieran on our laps and our family and friends came through to say their goodbyes to Kieran. The doctors and nurses were brilliant they treated us with such compassion at such a difficult time. At about 9.15pm on Saturday 17th December 2005 Kieran passed peacefully away in the arms of Adrian and I. We sat holding Kieran for at least an hour - we just couldn’t let him go. We eventually tucked Kieran up in bed with his teddies, gave him a kiss and said goodbye. The heartbreaking part was having to walk away and leave him there – I don’t know how we managed it. It was all over – our darling dearly loved Kieran was gone from our lives. Kieran’s funeral was held on Thursday 5th January 2006 a 12.30pm at Weeley Crematorium and was attended by over a hundred people. We had a wake at the Old Lifeboat House where we had a snow machine and balloons which were released with messages on them from his family and friends.
We will never ever get over losing Kieran we just have to learn to deal with it.
We all have our good and bad days but have our wonderful and happy memories of Kieran.
Our families and friends have all been wonderful and given us so much support and we thank them all for always being there for us.