A Scottish mum has made an emotional plea to other parents to push for blood tests for their children if they feel ‘something isn’t right’ after her son’s leukaemia symptoms were dismissed numerous times by doctors.
Little Jayke Steel (5) was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (cancer of the blood) in February after months of being ill.
His mum Cara (23) took him to the doctor on various occasions but time and time again she was told he was fine and it was “probably just a virus”.
Cara recalls: “One even said ‘he doesn’t look ill to me’ but when he was finally diagnosed the nurses in the cancer ward said he had the classic look of a child suffering from cancer and they couldn’t believe his diagnosis had been missed.
“It started in November 2018 after he got tonsilitis but it never cleared up. He then kept getting virus after virus and even had a full body rash at one point and a temperature of 40 degrees but each time we took him to the doctor we were told he was fine.
“He then started getting night sweats- his sheets would be soaking within half an hour of going to bed and his glands were very swollen. Instead of the doctor this time I took him to Forth
Valley Hospital where they ran tests and said they believed he was suffering from leukaemia.
“He was then transferred to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital where they immediately took a bone marrow test which showed he definitely had leuklaemia. We were devastated. That was on the Friday and on the Monday he started chemotherapy.”
Little Jayke had to stay in hospital for a further seven weeks for intense treatment while Cara, his dad James (24) and baby sister Maya stayed in a CLIC Sargent flat near the hospital.
“It was a very difficult time and our lives were completely turned upside down but Jayke was so brave through it all.
“My mum Domini was an amazing support to us, even taking time off work to help and I can’t thank her enough. The CLIC Sargent charity were also fantastic giving us the hospital flat.
“We were so happy once we got Jayke home again. Unfortunately his immune system was very low and he developed septic arthritis in his leg and problems with his kidneys so he ended up back in hospital again.”
Thankfully Jayke, who attends Langlees Nursery, is now in remission but will still need a further three years of preventative chemotherapy treatment.
“He has to have oral chemo daily, intrathecal chemo into his chest every three weeks and also a lumbur puncture into his spine so he has a lot to deal with still but he is a happy and brave little boy and it’s lovely to see him playing again and enjoying normal things like riding his bike.”
Unfortunately the family’s heartache is not yet over as baby Maya was recently diagnosed with a tumour on her chest wall at just six months.
Cara said: “We couldn’t believe this was happening all over again. We now know the tumour is called fibromitosis and even though it is non-cancerous it can be aggressive and can cause life-threatening problems and become malignant if it grows so we are taking medical advice at the moment about future options – Maya is only nine months now so still very young.”
Cara said she wanted to speak out, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to prevent other families from going through what she has gone through.
“If the doctors had taken me seriously or if I had more knowledge about childhood cancer back in November 2018 when my son first fell ill, Jayke may never have became as ill as he did,” she said.
“The thought of cancer never even crossed our minds, we really did believe it was rare, however there are more children diagnosed with cancer than diabetes. Twelve children in the UK every day are diagnosed with a form of cancer.
“My advice to all parents out there who may have a child who seems very sick and the doctors can’t get to the bottom of it is to push for a blood test as that’s the only way cancer can be diagnosed.
“Don’t be put off, demand it. It’s such a simple thing and can save your child’s life.”