Published: 00:01, 18 July 2016
A mother whose 11-year-old son died from a brain tumour has laid bare her intense heartache and her family’s unimaginable journey in a powerful book.
A Mighty Boy tells the tragic but inspiring story of "bright and beautiful" Silas Pullen through the eyes of his mum Sarah who lifts the lid on the unbearable pain of losing a child.
Sarah’s raw and honest account of every parent’s worst nightmare has been completely paid for by a crowdfunding campaign and all profits from the book will go into the Silas Pullen Fund which has already raised £400,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity.
Silas was diagnosed with a malignant and aggressive brain tumour in August 2012 and died just after Christmas in 2014.
His final two years were spent in and out of hospitals enduring intensive treatment, but also surrounded by love, fun and adventure as Sarah and dad Ben and brothers Oscar, Inigo and Rufus made the most of every moment they had left with their beloved Silas.
Sarah, who lives in Badlesmere with the family, said: “The book is about the journey we went on as a family from the moment we were told he was going to die until the day he died and the journey through grief and beyond.
Video: Sarah Pullen on life after Silas
“It’s about Silas and who he was, his personality, the things that drove us nuts, and what made him laugh and cry – all those things which I don’t want us and the boys to forget.
“We started grieving from the moment the doctors gave us the diagnosis.
“They told us he would be dead in 12 to 18 months and there was nothing they could do.
“I came home that night and I said to Ben I wish he was dead in a car crash. I didn’t want to do the journey because I didn’t want him to suffer or be in any pain so I suppose our path in grief started then.
“But we still had to live, we still had to look after Silas and protect him and protect the other boys.
“It was hard to find a way to live through it and find the positives and remember to laugh and have fun when death is hanging over you.
“It’s hard to accept that there is nothing that can be done and so inevitably, you’re fighting against that, and to have all of that hope taken away right at the beginning leaves you with very little.”
Only Ben and a handful of others have read the book so far but by next Easter, copies could be on the shelves in Waterstones or on Amazon thanks to unique publishers Unbound, which gets authors to crowd-fund before they take on the marketing and editing.
"We will never be happy in the same way we were when Silas was here, but we will eventually find a new form of happiness" - Sarah Pullen
Sarah says that parts of it are not an easy read but the process was a way for her to pour her emotion on to the paper and despite initially writing it for herself, she now hopes it may go some way in helping other parents facing a similar ordeal.
She said: “Writing the book was a way for me to remember all the little things about Silas that I didn’t want to ever forget and also to make sense of my feelings.
“When I first wrote it, I didn’t think I would do anything with it, but then I started thinking that it may help other people.
“When we first got Silas’ diagnosis we knew absolutely nothing about having a terminally ill child.
“The community nurses in Faversham were brilliant but when you’re filling in Do Not Resuscitate forms and the child is running into the room laughing and joking, we just had no idea of what it entailed.
“There are so many things I wish I had known and maybe I can help others to find out these things.
“It is also about getting people to talk about death and grief, which is so often brushed under the carpet.
“Death is not an option so we should be talking about it and we should not make it into such a taboo. Hopefully I can get people talking.”
The Silas Pullen Fund has been one of the Brain Tumour Charity’s biggest fundraisers and the total has rocketed past £400,000.
A Hollywood-themed ball in Newnham cashing in a staggering £60,000 a few weeks ago, a swim from Faversham to Sheppey and a charity gig at the Railway Hotel are just some of the local events which have helped to raise thousands for the fund.
But Silas has made his mark both nationally and across the world too, more recently with the It Is A No Brainer campaign which is still running and encourages A-listers to don a bandana and smile for the camera to raise awareness for the Brain Tumour Charity.
Joan Collins, Davina McCall and Freddie Flintoff have already pledged their support and more recently, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Kate Winslet have been snapped with the red head piece.
Sarah adds: “When you are so thick with grief you can barely comprehend what people are saying or doing, and you start to ask yourself whether this is normal.
“But knowing that these things are normal is so reassuring and you are not the first or last to experience it, and I want to give that reassurance to others and show that you can find the strength eventually to move forward.
“As a family, things will never be normal again and we will never be happy in the same way we were when Silas was here, but we will eventually find a new form of happiness.”
Although the book is already funded, you can still donate on the crowdfunding page and have your name inside every copy which is published.