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My shock as Harry’s ‘flu’ turned out to be cancer
A MUM who only discovered her son had leukemia after taking him to A&E has backed a campaign raising awareness about spotting symptoms of cancer.
Stephanie McNeish kept taking her son Harry to his GP after he came down with flu symptoms, a poorly tummy and problems with his ear.
Each time she was told the symptoms would pass within a couple of weeks, but each time Harry’s mysterious illness refused to go away.
Stephanie, 30, said: “My friends pestered me and said you need to take him to A&E, this is not right. So in the end I took him to hospital.
“We took him to A&E in Cambridge and within four hours we had this first diagnosis.”
The visit, last February, prompted a series of tests.
Within three days, Harry had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Because he had been diagnosed early, prompt chemotherapy treatment has helped contain the illness.
Harry, seven, of Hawkins Road, Alresford, requires further chemotherapy and doctors say his prognosis is good.
The Alresford Primary School pupil leads an active life and loves playing football with his older brother, Jack, 12.
Yesterday, Stephanie helped launch a campaign between Cancer Research UK and Tesco, which plans to raise £10million to fund 32 early diagnoses research projects across Britain.
Cancer Research leaflets about the early signs of cancer will also be displayed at store checkouts throughout Essex.
Stephanie urged other parents to trust their instincts and make sure any illnesses are properly investigated. She said: “We’re so lucky we got help at an early stage when Harry’s leukemia was responsive to chemotherapy.
“If I hadn’t been pushed by my friends and family to take him to A&E I would have left it even longer.
“You know your own children. Don’t be dismissed if you’re not getting the answers you’re looking for.”
A new report published by Cancer Research reveals three in ten people delay getting symptoms checked because they are worried about what the doctor might find.
One in five are worried about wasting a GP’s time. It is believed about 11,500 cancer deaths in Britain could be avoided every year if patients had been diagnosed at the right time.
Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK spokesman for Essex, said: “We’re delighted to have Stephanie launch our charity of the year partnership with Tesco.
“Her experience really brings home how important early diagnosis of cancer is.
“If patients are diagnosed when cancer is still in its early stages, before it has had a chance to spread to other parts of the body, treatment is more likely to be successful.”