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AMY RAMSEY

This month we sat down with Amy Ramsey, Founder of Dilly’s Toy Factory and all-round Supermum.

AMY RAMSEY

This month we sat down with Amy Ramsey, Founder of Dilly’s Toy Factory and all-around Supermum.

Amy is the mother of 2 gorgeous children, Dillan and Aiyla. After Dillan was diagnosed with Leukaemia over a year ago, Amy has devoted her life to providing a fun and positive world for Dillan whilst he fights his disease. Through courage and resilience, Amy’s positivity and view on life is nothing but inspirational, showcasing the true importance of family and the time spent together. If you're looking for how to find hope in the hardest of times, this is a must read.

Dillan rings the bell at Great Ormond Street in August 2023.

- Blue Wilson, Managing Director

Hi Amy, tell us about yourself…

My name is Amy, I’m a mum of 2 toddlers, originally from Manchester, but I now live In London and I am a full time carer for my 3 year old son, Dillan who is battling a rare form of cancer called Leukaemia.

I grew up in Manchester, travelled the world, worked for the UK’s Biggest radio station, and every week was at a concert, music festival or an exciting event. Then I fell in love with Ozzy in London, packed my bags and left my life in Manchester, had 2 babies 15 months apart from each other. Life seemed pretty perfect.

Tell us a bit about Dillan and what he’s like. 

He’s 3 now, he was 20 months old when he was diagnosed. He lost the ability to walk during the run-up to his diagnosis. His body was 90% cancer. It had filled all of his joints, he was just a baby so couldn’t really talk then either, just a few odd words. He was terrified in the beginning. 

He’s gone from hiding under his arms and hands whenever he sees a doctor, to using the buzzer at the side of the bed to call them in if he wants something. 

He’s so confident in the hospital now, he runs around playing with the nurses on the ward. He can speak 2 languages, and he loves dancing and singing. He’s just such a little character and full of mischief. You would never know by meeting him that there’s anything wrong with him. This is just his normal life now and he doesn’t really know anything different, he’s happy to be sitting in bed playing with his dinosaur. Apart from the fact he’s ‘wired in’ to his IV machines and can't get out of bed for another hour, you can’t really be doom and gloom whilst he’s standing on his bed dancing and laughing. His energy is infectious and it helps us cope a lot.

Talk us through when he was diagnosed.

When he was diagnosed, it was shocking, it still is. You just don't ever think something like that could happen to you. We took him to A&E in May 2020, they told us he had Cancer, and then basically told Ozzy he could stay for a formal diagnosis in the morning but then had to leave, and couldn’t come to visit, nobody could. Covid rules tore us apart in the most difficult time of our lives.

In the hospital room, it was just me and Dillan, nobody was allowed in, nobody was allowed out. So we had to make the most of it.

When we were told Dillan’s treatment would be 3.5 years long, as a family, we made a pact to make it the best 3.5 years for him that we possibly could. We needed to make this new life our new normal, so positive energy and lots of fun at all times. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of remembering our lives before this, or thinking about what could have been, believe me, it still creeps into my head daily and I have to bat it away. Night times are the worst as you have a lot of time to sit and think, and it causes you to go down dark Google rabbit holes that are hard to pull yourself out of. But you have to, when you're a mother, you do anything to protect your child. Even if it’s protecting them from seeing you sad.

You're very close friends with Nadine and have such a close group of girls around you. How has having such a close group of girls around you helped you through your journey?

My friends have been such amazing support. Nadine is Dillan’s godmother and she’s really stepped up to the plate. 

Seeing Dillan have procedures done and be so upset isn't something that I want to expose our friends to as it is traumatising, but sometimes you have no choice, especially if they are staying with you, or you with them. I have been sitting having a glass of wine with Nadine at her house, and we have been changing his dressings whilst he slept. She’s been great, all of my friends have. 

I remember the week Dilly was diagnosed, I hadn’t talked to anyone on FaceTime, I didn’t think I’d be able to keep it together in all honesty I was a mess. But the girls persisted and we had a group zoom call which really lifted my spirits and made me open up more about what was going on. It was one of many and I’m so grateful to them that we did it. It can get really isolating in the hospital room, especially when your child is so poorly they can barely make eye contact with you.

How did you stay positive and where did you find the strength to do that? 

There’s no time to be sad or negative. Sometimes your thoughts run away with you, and you have to have a word with yourself, but when it’s just you and this little boy who has absolutely no idea what’s going on, why he feels so poorly, and why he can’t see anyone, you have to switch it up and be the most positive you have ever been. The first 6 months were so intense, bad things happened by the hour. I was scared to go to the bathroom or have a shower most of the time. 

I had this huge notebook and would have to write down what happened during that day, just so I could remember what day it was. It was all a blur, I just know it was bad. One chemo drug causes a whole list of bad side effects and needs other drugs to correct them, but that drug causes another problem, and so on and so on. You can’t catch your breath. I think from the day he was diagnosed, I didn’t see daylight or breathe in fresh air for 5 whole weeks. One day, one of the play specialists said to me “Amy you really need to try and go for a walk outside, I’ll watch Dillan for you, just go”. It was the first time I’d left him even for 5 minutes. I stood outside the hospital, and was so overwhelmed, I just started walking down the street. The sunshine felt amazing. I felt like I was floating down the street. I think I lasted 15 minutes and went back in as I was worried something was going to happen. If you could see on a list everything that happened to Dillan during that time, and look at him now, you will know how I stayed positive. He’s such a fighter, and he literally pulled me through it day by day.

How have the hospitals been? 

They’ve been absolutely amazing, I have the nurses on WhatsApp now. We have a little group, if I ever need them for anything I message them. They’re so helpful. When you’re on this journey, you can't get enough support from the medical staff. Dillan knows all of the nurses by name. He loves to paint when he’s in there, and they keep all of his pictures and put them on the wall in their office, then when he’s admitted they decorate his room with them all before he gets in there, just to make it feel more like home. 

"I think that you can do anything that you put your mind to. I can't believe now the knowledge that I’ve got for Dillan's cancer compared to the beginning when I had no idea about anything."

Through all of your pain, you have grown so much. What would you say your biggest learning has been about yourself?

I think that you can do anything that you put your mind to. I can't believe now the knowledge that I’ve got for Dillan's cancer compared to the beginning when I had no idea about anything. Everything was very technical. We had weekly blood results and basically had to live our life on how Dillan's weekly results were. If his immune system was down that week, we couldn’t leave the house. I trained myself so much now into reading his anthology reports that I notice things that the doctors don't sometimes. I actually amaze myself sometimes at how much I’ve learned. 

Whatever life hands you, whatever situation you’re handed, just make the best of it. Ozzy and I say to each other all the time that we really have made the best out of a bad situation because although it's probably the most horrific time of our lives, we’ve had the best times of our lives as well. 

One person might think the best thing ever is to see their kids walk for the first time, mine was seeing him walk again for the second time. It was seeing the strength and determination he had for teaching himself how to walk again after all that time not being able to stand up. They are the pinch-me moments for me. Seeing him able to give himself chemo, he has chemo every day at home and he can do it himself now. Loads of amazing things like that might sound mental to some people but are just such happy moments for us. I think it can make you or break you. Ozzy has been amazing, he’s definitely the more laidback patient one of us and I'm the one sitting there reading through all the reports every night saying ‘this doesn't seem right’. 

I think we complement each other well and really appreciate the times that we've got together. The odd little date night that we get every now and again, it might only be once every 2 months but we really appreciate it. 

Hi Amy, tell us about yourself…

My name is Amy, I’m a mum of 2 toddlers, originally from Manchester, but I now live In London and I am a full time carer for my 3 year old son, Dillan who is battling a rare form of cancer called Leukaemia.

I grew up in Manchester, travelled the world, worked for the UK’s Biggest radio station, and every week was at a concert, music festival or an exciting event. Then I fell in love with Ozzy in London, packed my bags and left my life in Manchester, had 2 babies 15 months apart from each other. Life seemed pretty perfect.

Tell us a bit about Dillan and what he’s like. 

He’s 3 now, he was 20 months old when he was diagnosed. He lost the ability to walk during the run-up to his diagnosis. His body was 90% cancer. It had filled all of his joints, he was just a baby so couldn’t really talk then either, just a few odd words. He was terrified in the beginning. 

He’s gone from hiding under his arms and hands whenever he sees a doctor, to using the buzzer at the side of the bed to call them in if he wants something. 

He’s so confident in the hospital now, he runs around playing with the nurses on the ward. He can speak 2 languages, and he loves dancing and singing. He’s just such a little character and full of mischief. You would never know by meeting him that there’s anything wrong with him. This is just his normal life now and he doesn’t really know anything different, he’s happy to be sitting in bed playing with his dinosaur. Apart from the fact he’s ‘wired in’ to his IV machines and can't get out of bed for another hour, you can’t really be doom and gloom whilst he’s standing on his bed dancing and laughing. His energy is infectious and it helps us cope a lot.

Talk us through when he was diagnosed.

When he was diagnosed, it was shocking, it still is. You just don't ever think something like that could happen to you. We took him to A&E in May 2020, they told us he had Cancer, and then basically told Ozzy he could stay for a formal diagnosis in the morning but then had to leave, and couldn’t come to visit, nobody could. Covid rules tore us apart in the most difficult time of our lives.

In the hospital room, it was just me and Dillan, nobody was allowed in, nobody was allowed out. So we had to make the most of it.

When we were told Dillan’s treatment would be 3.5 years long, as a family, we made a pact to make it the best 3.5 years for him that we possibly could. We needed to make this new life our new normal, so positive energy and lots of fun at all times. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of remembering our lives before this, or thinking about what could have been, believe me, it still creeps into my head daily and I have to bat it away. Night times are the worst as you have a lot of time to sit and think, and it causes you to go down dark Google rabbit holes that are hard to pull yourself out of. But you have to, when you're a mother, you do anything to protect your child. Even if it’s protecting them from seeing you sad.

You're very close friends with Nadine and have such a close group of girls around you. How has having such a close group of girls around you helped you through your journey?

My friends have been such amazing support. Nadine is Dillan’s godmother and she’s really stepped up to the plate. 

Seeing Dillan have procedures done and be so upset isn't something that I want to expose our friends to as it is traumatising, but sometimes you have no choice, especially if they are staying with you, or you with them. I have been sitting having a glass of wine with Nadine at her house, and we have been changing his dressings whilst he slept. She’s been great, all of my friends have. 

I remember the week Dilly was diagnosed, I hadn’t talked to anyone on FaceTime, I didn’t think I’d be able to keep it together in all honesty I was a mess. But the girls persisted and we had a group zoom call which really lifted my spirits and made me open up more about what was going on. It was one of many and I’m so grateful to them that we did it. It can get really isolating in the hospital room, especially when your child is so poorly they can barely make eye contact with you.

How did you stay positive and where did you find the strength to do that? 

There’s no time to be sad or negative. Sometimes your thoughts run away with you, and you have to have a word with yourself, but when it’s just you and this little boy who has absolutely no idea what’s going on, why he feels so poorly, and why he can’t see anyone, you have to switch it up and be the most positive you have ever been. The first 6 months were so intense, bad things happened by the hour. I was scared to go to the bathroom or have a shower most of the time. 

I had this huge notebook and would have to write down what happened during that day, just so I could remember what day it was. It was all a blur, I just know it was bad. One chemo drug causes a whole list of bad side effects and needs other drugs to correct them, but that drug causes another problem, and so on and so on. You can’t catch your breath. I think from the day he was diagnosed, I didn’t see daylight or breathe in fresh air for 5 whole weeks. One day, one of the play specialists said to me “Amy you really need to try and go for a walk outside, I’ll watch Dillan for you, just go”. It was the first time I’d left him even for 5 minutes. I stood outside the hospital, and was so overwhelmed, I just started walking down the street. The sunshine felt amazing. I felt like I was floating down the street. I think I lasted 15 minutes and went back in as I was worried something was going to happen. If you could see on a list everything that happened to Dillan during that time, and look at him now, you will know how I stayed positive. He’s such a fighter, and he literally pulled me through it day by day.

How have the hospitals been? 

They’ve been absolutely amazing, I have the nurses on WhatsApp now. We have a little group, if I ever need them for anything I message them. They’re so helpful. When you’re on this journey, you can't get enough support from the medical staff. Dillan knows all of the nurses by name. He loves to paint when he’s in there, and they keep all of his pictures and put them on the wall in their office, then when he’s admitted they decorate his room with them all before he gets in there, just to make it feel more like home. 

"I think that you can do anything that you put your mind to. I can't believe now the knowledge that I’ve got for Dillan's cancer compared to the beginning when I had no idea about anything."

Through all of your pain, you have grown so much. What would you say your biggest learning has been about yourself?

I think that you can do anything that you put your mind to. I can't believe now the knowledge that I’ve got for Dillan's cancer compared to the beginning when I had no idea about anything. Everything was very technical. We had weekly blood results and basically had to live our life on how Dillan's weekly results were. If his immune system was down that week, we couldn’t leave the house. I trained myself so much now into reading his anthology reports that I notice things that the doctors don't sometimes. I actually amaze myself sometimes at how much I’ve learned. 

Whatever life hands you, whatever situation you’re handed, just make the best of it. Ozzy and I say to each other all the time that we really have made the best out of a bad situation because although it's probably the most horrific time of our lives, we’ve had the best times of our lives as well. 

One person might think the best thing ever is to see their kids walk for the first time, mine was seeing him walk again for the second time. It was seeing the strength and determination he had for teaching himself how to walk again after all that time not being able to stand up. They are the pinch-me moments for me. Seeing him able to give himself chemo, he has chemo every day at home and he can do it himself now. Loads of amazing things like that might sound mental to some people but are just such happy moments for us. I think it can make you or break you. Ozzy has been amazing, he’s definitely the more laidback patient one of us and I'm the one sitting there reading through all the reports every night saying ‘this doesn't seem right’. 

I think we complement each other well and really appreciate the times that we've got together. The odd little date night that we get every now and again, it might only be once every 2 months but we really appreciate it. 

"Motherhood has taught me to take absolutely nothing for granted. Things that people might think is normal day to day routine for them, is like a ‘pinch me’ moment for me. If I’m sat in bed with my kids, both of them together watching TV, it’s the best moment ever because it doesn’t happen a lot. Don’t take anything for granted."

"Motherhood has taught me to take absolutely nothing for granted. Things that people might think is normal day to day routine for them, is like a ‘pinch me’ moment for me. If I’m sat in bed with my kids, both of them together watching TV, it’s the best moment ever because it doesn’t happen a lot. Don’t take anything for granted."

How has motherhood made you into the woman you are today? What has it taught you? 

Motherhood has taught me to take absolutely nothing for granted. Things that people might think are normal day to day routine for them, is like a ‘pinch me’ moment for me. If I’m sitting in bed with my kids watching TV together, it’s the best moment ever because it doesn’t happen a lot. Don’t take anything for granted. I’ve had to adjust from being in sales and in media to being a fully-fledged haematologist. Motherhood has taught me loads but I’ve had to teach myself how to be a part-time oncologist. I think, with any parent, whatever hand you’re dealt, you’ve got to plough through, do your research. I literally sit day and night on the internet, googling everything possible about his disease so I can help in any way that I can. 

Tell us more about Dilly’s Toy Factory and how this came about.

I started Dilly’s Toy Factory when I was living on the ward. Moving from Great Ormond Street, where we were spoiled with toys, TVs and play equipment, to Royal London Hospital where we had hardly anything, I quickly noticed the difference. 

As a parent, I’m living in the hospital day to day and I know exactly what the parents and children need. I set up Dilly’s Toy Factory in August 2020, just before his 2nd birthday. We bought a little Mercedes G wagons for all the kids to drive themselves to surgery. It is gloomy in Great Ormond Street from the sixth floor to the third floor, the kids know where they’re being wheeled to on the beds, it's really scary for them. It’s amazing to see pictures and videos of the kids having fun now on their way down, I get messages from mums all the time saying, ‘my daughter was driving Dilly’s Car’s to the theatre today, it made such a difference she loves it’, it's really cute. 

So far we’ve raised about £25,000 for the Manchester Children’s Hospital, and £50,000 between Great Ormond Street and Royal London, getting the play team everything they need. 

If you’d like to donate to Dilly’s Toy Factory, please donate below

How has motherhood made you into the woman you are today? What has it taught you? 

Motherhood has taught me to take absolutely nothing for granted. Things that people might think are normal day to day routine for them, is like a ‘pinch me’ moment for me. If I’m sitting in bed with my kids watching TV together, it’s the best moment ever because it doesn’t happen a lot. Don’t take anything for granted. I’ve had to adjust from being in sales and in media to being a fully-fledged haematologist. Motherhood has taught me loads but I’ve had to teach myself how to be a part-time oncologist. I think, with any parent, whatever hand you’re dealt, you’ve got to plough through, do your research. I literally sit day and night on the internet, googling everything possible about his disease so I can help in any way that I can. 

Tell us more about Dilly’s Toy Factory and how this came about.

I started Dilly’s Toy Factory when I was living on the ward. Moving from Great Ormond Street, where we were spoiled with toys, TVs and play equipment, to Royal London Hospital where we had hardly anything, I quickly noticed the difference. 

As a parent, I’m living in the hospital day to day and I know exactly what the parents and children need. I set up Dilly’s Toy Factory in August 2020, just before his 2nd birthday. We bought a little Mercedes G wagons for all the kids to drive themselves to surgery. It is gloomy in Great Ormond Street from the sixth floor to the third floor, the kids know where they’re being wheeled to on the beds, it's really scary for them. It’s amazing to see pictures and videos of the kids having fun now on their way down, I get messages from mums all the time saying, ‘my daughter was driving Dilly’s Car’s to the theatre today, it made such a difference she loves it’, it's really cute. 

So far we’ve raised about £25,000 for the Manchester Children’s Hospital, and £50,000 between Great Ormond Street and Royal London, getting the play team everything they need. 

If you’d like to donate to Dilly’s Toy Factory, please donate below

Dillan starts school this September and rings the end of treatment bell in August 2023 at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. 

Thank you, Amy, for sharing your inspiring story with us. 

Follow Amy and Dillan's journey on her Instagram @amy_rambo 

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This month we sat down with Amy Ramsey, Founder of Dilly’s Toy Factory and all-around Supermum. Amy takes us on her remarkable journey of navigating life as a mother with a 3-year-old son, Dillan, who has been battling leukaemia since the age of 20 months. 

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