Mum’s agony of first Christmas without tragic Leighton

Leighton Sadler
Leighton Sadler

A MUM who lost her two-year-old son to cancer has described the heartache of spending her first Christmas without her “little angel”.

Tasha Chaffey and partner Rikki Sadler were devastated when their son, Leighton Sadler, lost a battle with non-Hodgkin’s T cell lymphoma just two weeks after his second birthday.

Tasha Chaffey with her son, Ashton Sadler

Tasha Chaffey with her son, Ashton Sadler

The family appeared in the Mail last year as they campaigned for help to raise money to buy a headstone for the Toy Story-mad youngster’s grave, at Stranton Cemetery, as the couple had to give up work to look after Leighton, who fell ill when he was just 16 months old.

Mail readers and other supporters clubbed together and, along with proceeds from events organised by the family, including a sponsored walk from Peterlee to Seaton Carew, helped to amass a whopping £4,500 for the graveyard plot, internment fee, headstone, flower-holders, ornaments, a Buzz Lightyear wreath and memorial tree.

And while Tasha still struggles to come to terms with her loss, she has described the pain of spending Christmas without Leighton.

Tasha, 20, who is also mum to 16-month-old Ashton, said: “I miss him every moment of every day, even more at Christmas.

“I love him, I miss him, he is my little angel.

“It’s been hard, especially when I was buying presents.

“When I have been walking past Toy Story stuff, I have been thinking ‘our Leighton would have loved that’. It’s also been hard buying for Ashton and not Leighton.”

She said last year, Leighton was elated when he was given a cat for Christmas, which was named Tye.

After a few months, Tye ran away. But astonishingly, the day after Leighton passed away, on July 8, Tye turned up in Tasha’s mum Denise’s garden.

Tasha, of Whitfield Drive, Hartlepool, revealed further heartache as she said Ashton has also been monitored for non-Hodgkin’s T cell lymphoma.

She said: “He has been really ill for the last seven weeks, getting viruses.

“They have tested his blood for the same thing that Leighton had and they found he has a low immune system, a low anti-body count, low white cells and low B and T cells.”

She said Ashton has to have injections, with another dose in eight weeks’ time.

Tasha had expected Leighton’s headstone to be on the grave in time for Christmas but she said it was held up in customs.

It is now with the suppliers and once it has been personalised with a photo of Leighton, a picture of Buzz Lightyear and an inscription, is expected to be in place in the new year.

She said the family had made wreaths and bought a number of memorial keepsakes, including Toy Story and Santa-themed items and had visited the grave over Christmas.