Mum's 100-Mile Taxi Ride To Diagnose Five-Year-Old Son's Cancer

19/11/2014 10:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Mum's 100-mile taxi ride to diagnose five-year-old son's cancer

A desperate mum spent £90 on a 100 mile taxi ride to a hospital to discover that her poorly five-year-old son had cancer – despite doctors saying he was fine.

Rebbeca George, 27, spent six months trying to convince her local doctors in the Lake District that her son Jake was seriously ill.

But after eight visits, she told her local paper that she finally decided to get another opinion and travelled from her home by taxi to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital where Jake was diagnosed with advanced cancer and found to be 'riddled' with tumours.

Rebbeca's ordeal started in May when she took Jake – who has severe autism and learning disabilities – to Furness General Hospital (FGH), Cumbria, for the first time and he was sent away with a suspected viral infection.

But even after the pair had been sent home from the hospital, Rebbeca was still convinced there was something wrong with Jake.

She went back again and he was diagnosed with an infection and a lack of iron in his blood, but was then discharged with antibiotics and iron supplements.

But she was still worried and returned to FGH six times over six months, only to be told her son was 'getting better'.

The last time he was sent away from hospital, Jake spent the night severely unwell and collapsed the following morning.

Rebbeca felt she had no option but to take him from their Lake District home to a dedicated unit at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, more than 100 miles away.

Within 48 hours of arriving in Manchester, Jake was given morphine and a blood transfusion, having been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

An MRI scan at the beginning of June revealed tumours all over his spine and in his spleen, liver and kidneys.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body.

Rebbeca said: "He was riddled with tumours. Even having suspected he might have cancer, the sheer amount of them I couldn't have been prepared for."

Jake's treatment at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital saw him endure five grueling runs of chemotherapy.

Rebbeca said: "The third lot nearly killed him. He ended up in intensive care and we nearly lost him. He picked up a nasty virus and went into septic shock."

But, mercifully, bone marrow biopsies have now revealed Jake's cancer cells are gone, although he still has to have one more bout of chemo.

Rebbeca said: "He's been absolutely amazing. If I hadn't brought him (to Manchester), he would have died from infection.

"Yes, I understand childhood cancer is rare, but it's not that rare. The symptoms were there, I suspected it, so why didn't the doctors in FGH?"

George Nasmyth, medical director for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, told the Mail: "We are very sorry that the paediatric service at Furness General Hospital did not meet the standards of care expected by Jake and his family, and we are investigating thoroughly.

"The findings of our analysis will be shared with the family in due course, and we will listen and respond directly to their concerns."

In the meantime, Rebbeca is keeping people up to date on her son's progress via Jake's Journey Facebook page, which has almost 1,000 followers.

She explained: "I want to put his story out there because I think he's absolutely remarkable. I'm so proud of him, I really am. But at the same time I want people to know that this happens.

"Everyone knows about the breast cancers and the prostate cancers and the things that affect adults, but what do we really know about the cancers children get? We need to raise awareness."

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