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A six-year-old girl was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer after doctors allegedly said she was “faking” her symptoms in order to get treats.
Emma Osborne took her daughter Elizabeth to A&E eight times, when she complained of excruciating hip pain.
But each time, blood tests and X-rays came back clear – and Elizabeth was sent home, with one medic even allegedly telling Emma they believed her daughter was faking the symptoms as she got a treat after every hospital visit.
But Emma, who is an online content creator, trusted her daughter and felt in her gut something was wrong – and when a lump appeared in Elizabeth’s cheek, she again took her daughter to hospital – where she was diagnosed with a rare type of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma blood cancer.
Now, Elizabeth has started a course of chemotherapy, but Emma wants to warn other mums to trust their kids and their own parent’s instinct and push for a second opinion if something doesn’t feel right.
Mum-of-one Emma, from Beechdale, Nottingham, said: “It’s been a terrible journey and I hope that no other parent has to go through this.
“To think that your child is sitting with cancer in her body for seven months with no treatment is just horrific.
“I want to spread awareness to trust your instincts as a parent because you know your child the best.
“I was angry that I had fought hard for seven months with nobody taking me seriously.
“You just need to keep fighting.”
In March this year, Elizabeth woke up screaming in agony with hip pain, and after a dose of childrens’ paracetamol and a massage, the pain only worsened so Emma phoned 111 who then advised the family to go to A&E.
After doctors at Queen’s Medical Centre A&E in Nottingham took an X-ray and blood tests, everything came back clear and they thought Elizabeth could have a transient hip, which is common in children and happens post-illness.
Emma, who suffers from arthritis, claims she cannot recall her daughter being ill and began to worry her daughter could have early arthritis.
Emma added: “About six weeks later she woke up screaming again, but this time with pain in her left leg, and we had to take her into A&E again.
“They looked over at her and said it could be growing pains so they sent us home again.
“This similar pattern went on for weeks because they said if it doesn’t get better then we should come back.
“Eventually a doctor in A&E told me that it was down to parenting, that she was manipulating us because we would reward her after a visit to the hospital.
“I was getting really frustrated because deep down I knew something wasn’t right with my child, that was deeper than what wasn’t showing up on X-rays or bloods.”
The concerned parents continued back and forth to A&E, and eventually a blood test found a vitamin D deficiency, but after an eight week course of medication, Elizabeth’s pain persisted.
But the horror began in June, when a painless lump developed in Elizabeth’s cheek, that was initially thought to be a dental problem, lead her to be referred to a Maxillofacial department.
A community children’s team nurse who got in touch with the family then agreed to refer Elizabeth for an MRI.
The scan found a bone abnormality in her leg, 5cm below her knee and it was confirmed she had tumours in her face, throughout her skull and jawline.
A biopsy of a lump in her face then confirmed the worst, that Elizabeth had a rare B-Cell Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Lymphoma after a near 7 month battle for answers.
Elizabeth was diagnosed on October 6, and began her gruelling two-and-a-half year course of chemotherapy the same week.
Emma said: “She was diagnosed earlier this month and she went straight to the hospital to start chemo.
“It struck my husband pretty hard but I was somewhat relieved now that I had answers to my instinct that I knew something was wrong with my child.
“We’re really grateful to the doctors who helped get things rolling immediately as the results came in.
“Now we can work towards getting her better.”
Elizabeth’s parents are raising money so she can help keep up her hobbies of dancing, playing video games and Brownies while in hospital.
Emma added: “She loves to game and she has a little computer at home which isn’t great but it lets her play games and hang out with her friends.
“While she’s going through her treatment, we thought it might be nice to go through it with the laptop so she can keep up with her friends and dance classes.
“We also want to be able to give her clubs a device to help them transmit the classes for her to her to join in.
“Her journey is a long one so we want to get her to feel as though she’s connected to the world outside the hospital for her mental health.
“We want it to feel like her life hasn’t stopped just because she’s in bed on chemotherapy.”
A spokesperson from Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, said: “We are sorry if Elizabeth or her mum felt her concerns were not listened to.
“Sadly childhood cancer can be very difficult to diagnose, especially with a very rare form such as this, and medical staff often need to carry out numerous tests to rule out other conditions before arriving at a diagnosis.
“We wish Elizabeth a swift recovery and strongly urge people to ensure they contact a doctor if they think there is something wrong with their child, themselves or a loved one.”