Jag’s story

Jag’s son Amarvir was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010.  

“We were on a trip to Legoland when we were first worried about Amarvir. He was six at the time and he looked so pale and tired.  

“We took him to the GP when we got home and they did some tests to find out what was wrong, but the night before the results were due back, we could hear him crying in pain in his bedroom. When we tried to get him up, he was crying that he could not get out of bed. His eyes rolled back and he collapsed back onto the bed. 

“We called an ambulance and were taken to hospital where they started doing more and more tests straightaway. Then he needed to go to intensive care and we were rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, with a police escort along the motorway. Nikki went in the ambulance and I had to drive separately – it was totally surreal. 

“When we got to Addenbrooke’s we were told that, as well as having acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, he also had septicaemia, which was blood poisoning, and his organs were shutting down. 

“They told us they were putting him in a semi-induced coma to try to prevent brain damage and that he might only have 24 hours to live. We were told that there was a 90% chance he would die that night and we should prepare ourselves. 

“It is so hard to know what to do at that moment. You are trying to take it all in and work out what you have to do next. They said we will need to say our goodbyes but you just can’t accept that. 

“We were crying, ringing the family and just hoping the next bit of news would be better. You try not to think of the alternatives. 

“Then Amarvir made it through those first 24 hours, then 48, and by day three, he was well enough from the septicaemia to start chemotherapy to fight the leukaemia. 

“It was a relief to be past those first few days, but our lives had changed forever, and we knew that it was going to be at least three years of treatment. 

“I gave up work for three years to be there to help care for him. After being told we could lose him, I wanted to do all I could and to be there as much as possible. We knew we needed to stick together as a family to get through it. 

“Amarvir slowly responded well to treatment but there were many setbacks too, with infections and at one point his right lung collapsed.  

“He is in remission now, is doing well at school and it is wonderful to see him doing normal things, like a normal teenager. There are still check-ups and of course you always worry about him if he is if he gets ill with a cold or anything, but he has been so brave throughout, it inspires us too. 

“I support CRUK for him and all the other children we saw on the wards – and want to do everything we can to help raise awareness. For us, sharing our experience and talking about cancer is incredibly important. As Sikhs, there are cultural taboos that we want to break – we are totally open about what has happened and want to help others. 

“We came so close to losing Amarvir and we'll never forget that. We never take life for granted anymore and are very proud of the man he is becoming. 

“We owe his survival to the incredible advances that have been made in children's cancer research, and we want other people to know about what they should do if they spot something unusual about their body or have concerns about their child’s health.” 

Jag, Amarvir and the whole family have been fantastic supporters, appearing in the media and even Jag taking part in Stand Up to Cancer’s Great Canoe Challenge, paddling over 100 miles in just five days.