A mother revealed today how a seemingly harmless bruise under her toddler’s eye led to cancer.
Harper Walker, from Greater Manchester, developed a small bruise under her right eye in February.
Soon after, her eye began to deform and droop.
The parents of 18-month-old daughter Jenny, 38, and Adam, 37, assumed there was no fault but took her to the GP when her bruising increased.
However, her doctor was not worried.
Harper Walker, from Greater Manchester, suffered a small bruise under her right eye in February
The little girl was diagnosed with high-risk stage four neuroblastoma, which was spreading throughout her body
The one-year-old’s eye began to deform and fell in her face, but the family doctor rejected her
The concerned parents returned a few weeks later as the bruising began to worsen, but were asked to come back in two weeks.
Unsatisfied with the response, Jenny called the family doctor’s office and asked for a referral to an ophthalmologist. An appointment was made for the end of April.
But the little one’s eye started drooping even further, so the two rushed their baby to the emergency room.
Scans revealed she had high-risk stage four neuroblastoma — a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body.
It spread from her adrenal glands, through her kidneys, to her limbs, ribs, hips, skull, and bone marrow.
Bluish lumps in the skin and bruising, especially around the eyes, are a common symptom of neuroblastoma. according to the NHS.
Jenny said: “Honestly, at first we were completely shocked – it didn’t really hit us at first.”
“When it happened, it was like the world stopped.”
“I think we both still feel like we’re walking around in a daze sometimes.”
Harper is usually said to be cheerful and smiling, and recovers from mistakes relatively quickly.
Babies and young children are particularly affected by neuroblastoma. It develops from specialized nerve cells – neuroblasts – that are left behind when a baby develops in the womb.
By stage four, the cancer has spread to parts of the body that are far from where it started – most commonly the bones, bone marrow or liver.
About 100 children in the UK and 800 adolescents in the US are diagnosed each year.
About half of those diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma will live five years after diagnosis.
Unhappy with the response, Jenny called the GP’s office and asked for a referral to an eye doctor, but she was soon admitted to the emergency room
The cancer spread from the adrenal gland through the kidney to her limbs, ribs, hips, skull and bone marrow
After completing induction chemotherapy, the family is awaiting updates on how she is responding to the treatment
Of her daughter’s diagnosis, Jenny said, “Harper hasn’t lost her spark.”
“She is so warm and friendly towards the nursing team.
“She lost her hair a few weeks after treatment, so that upset Harper so much that she was upset.”
“Adam sat and hand-picked away all of her loose hair so she didn’t have to cut it because that would scare her.”
After completing induction chemotherapy, the family is awaiting updates on how she is responding to the treatment.
Depending on the outcome of the tests, the family will determine whether they will need surgery to remove the primary tumor or high-dose chemotherapy.
She will then undergo radiation therapy, aimed at the original site of the cancer – her kidney – to stop the cancer from coming back, and immunotherapy to identify and destroy cancer cells.
WHAT IS NEUROBLASTOMA?
Neuroblastoma is a rare type of cancer that affects children and usually starts in the abdomen.
In the UK around 100 children are diagnosed each year, usually under the age of five.
The disease affects about 800 new children in the United States each year.
In about half of cases, neuroblastoma will spread to other parts of the body, particularly the liver and skin.
The cause of neuroblastoma is unclear. There may be a family history connection.
The main symptom is usually a lump in the abdomen, which can cause swelling, discomfort, or pain.
If the condition affects the spinal cord, it can cause numbness, weakness, and restricted movement in the lower part of the body.
Treatment depends on how far the cancer has progressed and the risk of it coming back after treatment.
Surgical interventions as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often used.
Source: Cancer Research UK