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Caleb’s story: Ringing the bell at the Bears of Sheffield Farewell to mark the end of cancer treatment

Caleb and little bear
25 October 2021

When the Bears of Sheffield left the streets and came back together at Meadowhall for one last time – it also marked a special moment for one young patient.

A special weekend was made even more poignant by five-year-old Caleb Masaba-Kituyi ringing the bell to mark the end of his treatment for cancer and officially start the event.

Caleb had been undergoing treatment on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s for more than two years and on Thursday 14 October, he rang the bell surrounded by family, supporters of the trail and the Bears to mark completing his treatment.

Caleb on the ward at Sheffield Children's during early stages of treatmentIn October 2019, when Caleb was three years old his mum Becky noticed that he had a nappy rash that wouldn’t go away. They went to their local doctors where it was also noticed that he had a rash on his chest.

The family, from Walkley, were sent to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for blood tests and the same afternoon were called back in and given the devastating news that Caleb had leukaemia.

Mum Becky Casson said, “We had the blood tests at 2pm and at 4pm the hospital phoned to say that we needed to come back in and there was a team on the Oncology Ward expecting us.

“Within ten minutes of meeting with the team on the ward we were given the news that Caleb had leukaemia and he would need to start treatment straight away. It didn’t sink in then and I still don’t really think it has, the whole world just stopped.”

Caleb began treatment that night, starting an intense course of chemotherapy and going into theatre the next day to begin his treatment journey.

Becky continued, “They confirmed it was leukaemia but a couple of weeks later discovered that it was a much more aggressive type which would mean more intense treatment for two years. We didn’t know what was coming or what to expect but we just knew we had to do it.”

The family spent weeks on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s and were trained to administer the chemotherapy and steroids that Caleb needed from home.

Becky said: “It was a rollercoaster. There were times when he stopped eating during his treatment and his mood would change, he would get angry and aggressive, which is not like him. If he got a temperature I’d have to find somewhere for his sister, Faith, to stay so we could go into the hospital. When I look back I can’t quite believe how we’ve done it, but you just do.”

After two years of intense treatment, stays on the ward and regular visits to Sheffield Children’s, Caleb is nearing the end of his treatment and this week will ring the ward bell to mark the occasion. Caleb has visited many of the Bears while they were on the streets and so it seemed fitting he would officially open the Bears of Sheffield Farewell Weekend, celebrating the end of his treatment.

Caleb and Theo Bear from the Bears of Sheffield trailBecky added, “To know that this week will be the end of those two years is just an amazing feeling, we’ll never know if it’s going to come back but we wanted to mark it in as special a way as we could. Caleb has loved visiting the Bears and we felt this was such a nice way to say goodbye to the Bears and also to everything we’ve been through over the last two years.”

The Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail came to an end just a few weeks ago, organised by The Children’s Hospital Charity to raise vital funds to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward. This weekend will see all 61 Big Bear sculptures come together for one last time at Meadowhall before being auctioned off to raise even more for the building of the new ward.

The new ward will have brighter, more modern facilities with en-suite bedrooms and views over Weston Park. The new plans will ensure the facilities match up to the incredible care provided by the teams at Sheffield Children’s. Something which Caleb’s family know all too well.

Becky added, “The current facilities on the ward definitely are in need of an update, when you spend long periods of time there even just small things like being able to have a shower in the room make a big difference. The staff on the ward become a part of your family, they treat you like you’re a part of theirs and the care is amazing. If the facilities could match that it would make such a difference for families like ours.”

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