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Miriam and Nick Clegg reveal teenage son's 'devastating' cancer battle

Antonio, 14, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma

by Gemma Strong

 

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Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister, and his wife Miriam have appeared on Lorraine on discuss their son’s "devastating" cancer battle. The couple spoke of the heartbreak upon discovering in September 2016 that 14-year-old Antonio had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. After months of chemotherapy, the teenager is now in remission, and his parents spoke publicly about his illness for the first time to help raise awareness for the charity Bloodwise.

Miriam revealed that they initially took their son to the doctor after spotting "a very, very small lump" on his neck. "We took him to the GP anyway, which was a stroke of luck really, because immediately he spotted it could be something more serious, and it was lymphoma," she explained.

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Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam appeared on Lorraine to discuss their son's cancer battle

Nick then recalled the moment he was told his son had cancer. "Well, it's like a sort of 'word bomb', isn't it?" he said. "Certainly if you are unfamiliar with it, as we were, and your initial reaction, I think, we found, was like any mum and dad, it's irrational, but you just have this almost physical wish to try and take it off your kid and take it yourself. And then very quickly you get into the pretty gory details of the treatment."

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He continued: "The advances in science have been remarkable of course but it's still a very brutal thing - you're basically poisoning the body with very powerful chemicals and drugs to kill the cancerous cells and that has huge side effects; hair loss and vomiting and nausea. At one point his body was neutropenic which means his body had no defences against infection, so you very quickly move from the shock into just trying to support your child as they're battling through this very heavy treatment."

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The couple have been married since 2000 and are parents to three boys

Of his son's brave approach to battling the disease, Nick added; "Children are just extraordinary, they are just so resilient and he was treated on the NHS at a teenage cancer unit in a hospital, in UCLH in London. They were wonderful, the nurses, the doctors everyone was brilliant." He continued: "Interestingly the thing he was most concerned about was sort of falling behind his classmates. His anxiety was more about keeping up with his classmates, keeping up at school. So it was very impressive actually."

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The former Lib Dem leader, 50, also said that his son's illness had granted him perspective. "You have got your work and you've got all sorts of other things going on in your life but when something like this happens it just becomes the sole principle, objective, just to make sure he is better," he said. "His lymphoma was all over his chest and his neck and he gets tested every three months I think for a couple of years, so there is always a slight spike of anxiety with us every three months but basically he is on the road to recovery."