Thanks to Addenbrooke’s

Easy Italian has established a permanent partnership with ACT, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, to fund projects for improving lives and treatments for children treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and to help support their families.

As Easy Italian’s founder and managing director, I have taken the decision to support ACT after an experience which has deeply touched me and that I’d like to share with my clients, colleagues and friends. My hope is that you may support me to help other children and families to have the same happy ending my family had.

Apart from running Easy Italian, I am a proud and busy mum of two, a boy and a girl. In August 2017, we had just come back to Cambridge after our usual summer holidays in Italy. One morning my son Niccolò, who was seven years old at that time, couldn’t get out of bed. We discovered that he couldn’t walk, was in intense pain and his left leg was almost paralysed. He has always been a healthy, active child so this came out of the blue. The previous day, Niccolò had had a very active afternoon, so initially, his dad and I thought that he had injured his leg. We took him to Addenbrooke’s where blood tests revealed that he had a serious infection. He was hospitalized and, since there were no beds available in the pediatric ward, we ended up in the children’s oncology ward.

I was in shock. What was going on? I had so many questions and no answers. The doctors suspected septic arthritis, a very serious and dangerous infection that, if not treated in 24/48 hours from the start of the symptoms, can permanently damage the joints and, if the infection spreads to other parts of the body, affect other organs and cause death. Niccolò was immediately treated for septic arthritis even though the doctors weren’t completely sure about the diagnosis. He had an operation to remove the infected fluid from his knee and started a six week course of strong intravenous antibiotics. They tried to cultivate the bacteria from Niccolò’s fluids, first at the hospital, and then by sending the sample to a DNA laboratory in London. Both the attempts were unsuccessful. I understand now that in some cases of septic arthritis it’s not possible to grow the bugs in laboratory, but I didn’t know it at that time.

Time is so warped in hospital – minutes are hours, hours are days. We spent many days waiting for the confirmation of the diagnosis, hoping for some news from the laboratory. Eventually the doctors confirmed septic arthritis because all the tests Niccolò had undergone excluded all the other possibilities. In the meantime, Niccolò was responding to treatment, had started his physio and was able to get off his bed, even if we had a long path ahead before he could get back to normal. Niccolò had to have a second operation to put a pick line in his harm to continue his treatment at home. The doctors discharged him after 10 days, a community nurse came every day for six weeks to give him intravenous antibiotics and he had to do a lot of physiotherapy to stretch and bend his leg again.

After a couple of months Niccolo was back to normal. He is now running, jumping and enjoying many sports and activities! However, the 10 days spent in the children’s oncology ward changed my life forever. It changed my priorities and changed the way I view what is important and what isn’t. I had the privilege to share my tears, fears and hopes with some heroic parents and my son played with the most brave children you can ever imagine. Alice, Thomas, Aston, Amelia and all the other wonderful children we met during those days, you’ll stay with us forever and I have promised myself to do what I can to help.

When your child is seriously sick you don’t have a life anymore. You don’t exist. The world outside is black and white, you can’t see the colors, you can’t hear the birds singing. After feeling like that and after meeting the children and the parents I met during those days at the hospital, you simply can’t go back to your life without doing anything. What my son had was very rare – there are only 5 cases out of 100.000 people. Like most people, I thought “it will never happen to us!”. But it happened, it can happen to anybody, and it can change your whole life from one day to another.

I will be forever grateful to the doctors who saved my son’s life, to all the C2 and D2 staff who looked after us so well and to the special ladies of the play team who every day work hard simply to bring out a smile.

Please contact us if you want to know about the current projects for children being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. If you feel you would like to donate some money to help these projects, you can donate through Easy Italian – we make regular donations to ACT, or you can donate on the ACT website. The page contains information about what they are fundraising for and also includes links to donate.

Thank you very much for your support!

Rita Bucciarelli

Director, Easy Italian Ltd