I am struggling to find the words for anything today. Silence is my friend. I thought instead, I would share what was said at the awards as it is a good way for newcomers to this site, to understand a little background as to who the amazing Skye Benjamin Hall is!
Sally’s son Skye was always making people laugh. He loved magic tricks and was so proud of his little brother Jesse. But in August 2013, at just four years old, Skye was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.
A mere five days later, he had eight-hour surgery before beginning months of chemotherapy. Jesse, then only two, stayed at his granny’s while his parents were in hospital, including when Skye moved onto gruelling radiotherapy, which meant being secured to a table in a mask for 40 minutes twice a day. Through all of his treatment, including two months of isolation in hospital, Sally played and did crafts with Skye - she tells us ‘It’s a mother’s job to turn the worst days into the best’. Even when he was very sick and lost his hair, he’d say “Mummy, I need an activity… one we’ve never done before!”. That was so like him, always trying to make the most out of everything - he loved trying out his magic tricks on the doctors and nurses.
In April 2014, the family were over the moon when a scan showed Skye’s tumour had significantly reduced. They cried, the nurses cried… suddenly there was hope again. But their joy wasshortlived. In May, Skye started getting pins and needles and his speech became slurred - a further scan showed Radio/Chemo Neuro Toxicity, by a cruel irony the white matter in his brain and spine affected by his treatments. The doctors broke the heartbreaking news that it was unlikely he would ever recover. Sally continued the unimaginable task of remaining strong throughout.
Skye’s condition deteriorated and he became paralysed from the neck down, until one night in August Jesse dressed them both as princes and fed his brother chocolate brownie mix on his finger. The next day, on 29 August this year, Skye told his family what he always told them: ‘I love you to infinity’, and then passed away at home, a year after his first diagnosis. He was five years old.
Sally has put together a short video that she has asked us to play tonight. It is perhaps the most heart-rending video I have ever seen, but in honour of Skye’s bravery and spirit, and how strong his family have been, we felt we should share it with you all tonight.
While Skye was ill, Sally and her husband Andrew set up the charity Blue Skye Thinking to support research into better, safer treatments for childhood brain tumours. So far, they’ve raised nearly £72,000. Skye also came up with Loom to the Moon, asking children to help him create the world’s longest loom band, for which Sally is still seeking looming enthusiasts to help with. Do ask your children to send in their own loom donation. In her nomination, Lucy Heath wrote, ‘To watch a mother put her own feelings of helplessness and desperation aside to make the last months of Skye’s short life magical and fulfilled taught me about the kind of mother I should be. Sally has created a legacy for Skye, a charity to help other families, and to ensure he is never forgotten.’
Written by Alexandra Davies, Editor / Read by Claire Irvin, Editor-in-Chief - Mother & Baby