A mum today revealed how a seemingly innocent spot under her child’s eye was a sign of cancer.
Greater Manchester’s Harper Walker had a small bruise under her right eye in February.
Soon, the one-year-old’s eyes began to change shape and his face began to droop.
His parents, Jenny, 38, and Adam, 36, thought it was innocent but took the little one to the GP when the wound turned into a complete black eye.
The GP turned the two teachers away without explanation.
Greater Manchester’s Harper Walker had a small bruise under her right eye in February
The little girl was diagnosed with stage four, high-risk, neuroblastoma that had spread throughout her body
The one-year-old’s eyes began to change shape and his face drooped but the GP turned him away
Worried parents returned a few weeks later when the lesions began to worsen but were told to return in two weeks.
Dissatisfied with the response, Jenny called the GP surgery and asked for a referral to an ophthalmologist – this was arranged for the end of April.
But the little one’s eyes started to blur so the couple took their baby to A&E.
Scans revealed she had stage four, high-risk neuroblastoma – a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in various parts of the body.
It spread from the adrenal glands in his kidneys to his limbs, ribs, hips, skull and bone marrow.
Bluish lumps on the skin, and especially sores around the eyes, are a common symptom of neuroblastoma, according to the NHS.
Jenny said: ‘To be honest, in the beginning, we were just in complete shock – it didn’t quite hit us at first.
‘Then, when it happened, it was like the world stopped.
‘I think we both feel like we’re walking in circles sometimes.’
Harper is generally said to be happy, smiling and bounces back from bugs relatively quickly.
Neuroblastoma mainly affects infants and young children. It develops from specialized nerve cells — neuroblasts — that have been around since the baby’s development in the womb.
In stage IV, the cancer has spread to parts of the body where it started — usually the bones, bone marrow, or liver.
Around 100 children in the UK and 800 young people in the US are diagnosed with the rare cancer each year, most common in under-fives.
About half of those diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma will survive five years after their diagnosis.
Dissatisfied with the response, Jenny rang the GP surgery and asked to be referred to an ophthalmologist but was rushed to A&E.
The cancer spread from his kidney’s adrenal glands to his limbs, ribs, hips, skull and bone marrow.
After completing induction chemotherapy, the family awaits news on how he responds to treatment
Discussing her daughter’s diagnosis, Jenny said: ‘Harper hasn’t lost her spark.
‘She is very welcoming and cheerful to the nursing team.
‘She lost her hair a few weeks into treatment, so it upset Harper.
‘Adam sat down and ran his hands through her loose hair, so she wouldn’t have to cut it because it would scare her.’
After completing induction chemotherapy, the family awaits news on how he responds to treatment.
Depending on the results of the scan, the family will know whether she has had surgery to remove the primary tumor or high-dose chemotherapy.
He will then have radiotherapy to target the cancer’s original site – his kidney – to try to prevent it from returning, and immunotherapy to target and destroy the cancer cells.
What is neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that affects children and usually starts in the abdomen.
Around 100 children, usually under the age of five, are diagnosed in the UK each year.
The disease affects about 800 new babies a year in the United States.
In about half of cases, neuroblastoma spreads to other parts of the body, especially the liver and skin.
The cause of neuroblastoma is unclear. There may be a family-history link.
The main symptom is usually a lump in the abdomen, which may cause swelling, discomfort or pain.
If the disease affects the spine, it can cause numbness, weakness and loss of movement in the lower body.
Treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is and the risk of it coming back after therapy.
Surgery, and chemo and radiotherapy, are commonly used.
Source: Cancer Research UK