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19th Sep 2018

Catastrophe’s Rob Delaney shares heartbreaking essay about two-year-old son’s fatal cancer battle

Keeley Ryan

Catastrophe’s Rob Delaney has posted a heartbreaking extract from the book he started writing about his two-year-old son’s battle with a brain tumour.

The 41-year-old explained that he had been unable to continue the book after Henry died in January this year. However, he shared the extract as he “didn’t want to sit on it, in case it could make anyone else feel less insane.”

He explained in the essay, which he published on Medium, that he initially wanted to use the book to let other parents of seriously ill children that “someone understood and someone cared”.

He originally began drafting the book in 2016 but, when Henry was given months to live in the autumn of 2017, the actor decided to stop so that he could “be with him around the clock and make sure his final months were happy. And they were.”

Mr Delaney added:

“But I can’t write that book anymore because our family’s story has a different ending than I’d hoped for.”

In the essay, he recalled the multiple trips to the hospital and  how he cried as he listened to his young son babbling before a tracheotomy left him unable to speak for a year.

He wrote:

“I may wish Henry wasn’t in the hospital and it may make me f*cking sick that my kids haven’t lived under the same roof for over a year.

“But I’m always, always happy to enter the hospital every morning and see him.”

“The surgery to remove his tumor left him with Bell’s palsy on the left side of his face, so it’s slack and droops.

“His left eye is turned inward too, due to nerve damage. But the right side of his face is incredibly expressive, and that side brightens right up when I walk into the room.

“There’s no doubt about what kind of mood he’s in, ever. It’s particularly precious when he’s angry because seeing the contrast between a toddler’s naked rage in one half of his face and an utterly placid chubby chipmunk cheek and wandering eye in the other is shocking in a way that makes me and my wife and whatever combination of nurses and/or doctors are in the room laugh every time.

“And when he smiles, forget about it. A regular baby’s smile is wonderful enough. When a sick baby with partial facial paralysis smiles, it’s golden. Especially if it’s my baby.”

You can read his full excerpt here

Two-and-a-half-year-old Henry passed away in January this year. His dad confirmed the news in a Facebook post the following month, saying that he, his wife, and Henry’s old brothers are “devastated.”

He wrote:

“Henry was a joy. He was smart, funny, and mischievous and we had so many wonderful adventures together, particularly after he’d moved home following fifteen months living in hospitals.

“His tumor and surgery left him with significant physical disabilities, but he quickly learned sign language and developed his own method of getting from A to B shuffling on his beautiful little bum.

“His drive to live and to love and to connect was profound.”

Featured image via Medium