A Scottish mom has revealed how her son was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer after he complained of stomach pain.
Charlene Cannon, from Strathaven, Lanarkshire, took 11-year-old Mark to the doctors last August after he was having trouble breathing.
Mark, who lives with his parents and 14-year-old brother James, was waiting for a blood test when he collapsed one day after school and was rushed to the nearby Hairmyres University Hospital.
The soccer-obsessed boy was initially sent home, but an hour later his mother Charlene and her husband Mark were told that their boy had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a rare type of aggressive cancer and most commonly affects children.
Symptoms are caused by a lack of healthy blood cells and usually begin slowly before quickly becoming severe.
Mark was then rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after he struggled to walk and breathe.
He did not leave the ward for six months, enduring grueling chemotherapy sessions up to four times a week.
Charlene, who works at the local council, said the shock diagnosis was “a tidal wave of misery that won’t dissipate.”
She told The Scottish Sun: “He came home from school and complained of stomach pain and inability to breathe, which is one of the signs – we didn’t know it at the time.
“We were told that this is a fast-acting remedy, within a few weeks a child with this strain can die.”
But things went from bad to worse for the brave young man after Hickman’s line, a catheter inserted through his neck to administer cancer chemotherapy, became infected.
He contracted fatal sepsis and his organs began to fail, causing parts of his brain to swell, leaving him blind for a while and delaying cancer treatment.
Charlene added: “We had a variety of specialists working with us to bring the situation under control. We were told that he had a few weeks to live.
My son died of a brain tumor – I knew something was wrong, but the doctors did not listen
“His blood pressure was sky high.
“He had a seizure and had to call the emergency crew to work on him, and he was called to the theater.
“It was terrible. The pressure on his brain was too strong, and it affected the part of the brain that was responsible for his vision. So he lost his sight.
“He was kept in the intensive care unit for several weeks and connected to machines, and at some point about six lines came out of him at the same time. This was hard.
“We were concerned that he had not been treated for cancer at this time since September, and now we are approaching October.”
Mark was not even allowed to see his brother and only his parents could visit him as the new super-covid variant of Omicron swept across the country.
Charlene said: “James and Mark are very close.
“It was a nightmare situation – there was no interaction with other children, he was stuck in the ward.
What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.
According to NHS about 790 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.
Although rare, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common type of leukemia affecting children.
- pale skin
- feeling tired and short of breath
- unusual and frequent bleeding gums or nosebleeds
- night sweats
- pain in bones and joints
- easily damaged skin
- swollen lymph nodes
- abdomen (abdominal pain) – caused by an enlarged liver or spleen
- unintentional weight loss
- purple skin rash
“It had a huge impact on his mental health – he couldn’t even communicate with his family, let alone other patients. It was really hard not only for Mark, but for all the kids in the department.
“The staff were amazing, nothing was too much trouble and they went above and beyond.
“In time, he was allowed to go to the hospital movie theater and his partner could come in and see him.”
And the football fan got plenty of treats from Celtic and Manchester United while he was in the hospital.
He received a T-shirt autographed by former Hoops skipper Scott Brown, as well as a Scotland stripe from the national team and a message from the Manchester United players.
Finally, on January 7, Mark was allowed to go home after spending Christmas and New Year in the ward.
His latest results show no sign of the disease and he now goes to the hospital up to four times a week for treatment to make sure his cancer doesn’t come back.
He can eat and walk again, and now he goes to school again for an hour a week.
Scottish baby who underwent grueling 11-hour brain tumor surgery the day after christening ‘recovers’
But, despite the difficulties experienced, the impudent schoolboy did not lose his sense of humor.
Proud mom Charlene added: “He comes with crackers.
“He was with me and the teacher and said, ‘I’m dying of cancer and they want me to go to school? I do not think so!”
“The teacher didn’t know where to look!”
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