A YOUNG family have offered their heartfelt thanks to NHS staff for the care and compassion which has helped them through their one-year-old son’s cancer diagnosis.

Little Alfie Hemsley was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in March and is now undergoing his third round of chemotherapy.

On the day the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, Alfie’s mother, Emily, said the family could not be more thankful to the staff who have offered treatment, care and support at the time when it is needed most.

Mrs Hemsley, who lives in the village of Hailey, described how the family’s lives were ‘turned upside down’ when doctors gave the devastating diagnosis.

She had taken her son to the John Radcliffe Hospital A&E after he had been suffering from nose bleeds and weight loss.

However, doctors were initially unable to identify the cause of the symptoms.

After ordering a series of blood tests it was ultimately revealed that Alfie had Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) - a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

The condition can worsen significantly if not caught and acted on quickly.

Mrs Hemsley said: “I just remember being on the floor, I just couldn’t believe what they’d told me.

“Within a split second your life is changed forever. In that split second our family life was turned upside down, you never expect that.”

Now in the hands of the NHS staff at the John Radcliffe, a course of chemotherapy began with Mrs Hemsley, and her husband Matthew, having to rely on the doctors and nurses of Oxfordshire’s NHS to not only make Alfie better, but also to support them through what is likely to be the most difficult time of their lives.

The mother-of-three said: “They've been unbelievable.

“The doctor that gave us the diagnosis just told us ‘he couldn’t beat about the bush’ because the needed to act quickly and told us straight, which we appreciated.

“There was a nurse there who was so compassionate, she held my hand through it all.

“They were there for us as long we needed them.”

The Hemsleys have now spent a number of weeks in Kamran’s Ward at the Oxford Children’s Hospital saying they almost feel part of a community with nurses, play therapists and even house keeping staff doing their best to make the young family feel at ease.

Alfie still faces a long journey with his chemotherapy treatment expected to last until September.

Doctors will then look for signs of improvement.

Unfortunately Alfie wasn't able to join Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust staff who gathered outside of the hospital to mark the 70th anniversary this week, however, as long as Alfie remains in hospital, Mrs Hemsley said she knows both her and her son are in good hands.

She said the hospital staff embody the dedication, compassion and commitment to patients that has made the NHS one of the world leaders in care for the last seven decades.

She said: “They really do.

“From the house keeping who come in every day, to the people bringing his meals, to the ward sister and the doctors and registrars, there’s not one that hasn’t been there, not one that hasn’t held my hand.

“I couldn’t be more thankful.”