The mother of a 12-year-old from Marlow whose leukaemia has returned a year after he finished chemotherapy said the thought of losing her son ‘keeps her up at night’.

Seth Lowdon was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in November 2022, less than a year after his mum Emma’s stroke at the end of 2021, an ordeal her two sons were “still coming to terms with” when they received the second round of bad news.

Emma initially thought Seth was being bullied when she spotted strange bruising on the 12-year-old’s legs, but after being directed from Wycombe to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the family were told Seth had AML and he began a lengthy stay at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to undergo chemotherapy.

The chemo “hit his body hard” but he endured three cycles before ringing the end of treatment bell in May 2023, news which Emma thought meant her son was in the clear.

At the end of last month, however, she noticed fresh bruising on Seth’s arm and took him to the High Wycombe MIU for a blood test, where they were told that the leukaemia had returned.

After the relapse, Emma said a consultant had told her that chemotherapy alone wouldn’t be enough to cure the AML and that their best hopes now lay in finding a stem cell donor for a bone marrow transplant.  

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Emma, her husband and Seth’s 10-year-old brother were tested to see if they were a match, but on Wednesday, May 15, the family learned that none of them were.

She was urged by a friend to launch a GoFundMe campaign as a way of spreading awareness about registering as a stem cell donor and funding experiences and gifts to keep Seth’s spirits high.

The 12-year-old’s case has been picked up by the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), who are also on the hunt for a donor, but the uncertainty of the ongoing situation still weighs heavily on Emma’s shoulders.

“I didn’t want to (start a GoFundMe) initially because I’m still struggling with people knowing. It makes it real, and people start being nice and that’s hard when you’re trying to be strong. I cry in the bathroom in hospital, so he doesn’t see.

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“We want to be able to give Seth treats along the way because it’s just an awful situation. Isolating in a hotel room for weeks on end does nothing for your mental health.

“He wants to go to the ramen café in London and the Harry Potter experience, among other things. We miss celebrating birthdays and holidays and he wants to go somewhere really nice when he can, but we’re missing this summer at least.”

Emma also hopes the fundraiser will boost awareness about childhood cancers and the ease of becoming a stem cell donor – with just “a small swab and a blood test” potentially saving someone’s life.

“The thought of no matches on the register is one that keeps me up at night, literally. Our world has stopped since the diagnosis. My stroke rehabilitation stopped overnight because he is my absolute priority.”