Never had the thought crossed this mummy’s mind that her child may be suffering from cancer… he was, after all, a very healthy child, who rarely caught a cold. Never once had he taken antibiotics.
Mummy Mary Anne Loh previously posted on Facebook about the day that changed her life forever…
How it first started
Mary writes about her son Ethan, “Ethan was a 100% breastfeed child, very healthy with almost zero to none sickness. No major fever, cough or flu whatsoever.”
“If he catches flu or cough bugs, he could self recover in less than 3 days with no medication. So literally he never had any medication in his life until D-DAY (Diagnosis Day)”
The troubles began in early 2015, and Mary elaborates on the first warning signs, “It all started early 2015, a first major bout of flu & cough, followed with mild fever. 1st round it went off by itself in less than a week, no Dr visit as it wasn’t bad.”
“After 2 weeks of break it came back, this round it stayed longer & was a tad worse than the 1st round, took Ethan to a paeds near home, Dr confirmed lungs were clear, was only given PROSPAN & it went off after.”
“Ethan was normal, still active & a monkey.”
Soon, other symptoms started to surface, “Around mid-Feb 3rd bout of flu & cough but no fever, it also went off in less than a week. Come March he started complaining pain under his armpit which I thought was from how I carry him sometimes. I keep a close eye, it came n went off in a few days.”
“Towards 3rd week of March the underarm pain came back again, this round he refused to lift his arm. And again it went off by itself.”
A worried Mary consulted many paediatricians, “From Jan to March I have taken him to paeds many times, for assurance although I was assured he was fine & partly growing pains.”
“Come April, I notice a little weight loss but he was still active & eating although at times complain of stomach discomfort which we all thought was gas as he was passing out gas a lot.”
Each time she was assured that everything was alright, “Paeds also assured nothing was “wrong” … honestly, I can’t really see anything significantly wrong either … From Jan to April we did travel back to Penang for CNY & he was active, we even did railway trip to Ipoh which he was fine too although a little tired than usual.”
Even blood tests failed to reveal the truth, “Come May, leg pain started, he can’t walk long & always wanted to be carried. Stomach discomfort has become more frequent, weight loss became more significant. And again paeds assured he was fine, a blood test which was done at paeds didn’t show anything either.”
“We had plans to go Disney on 23/5/15, however, his leg pain has gotten from bad to worse on n off, some days he was ok & some days it was bad.”
And finally, when Ethan’s leg pain refused to go away, Mary made a decision, “On 19/5/15 after our morning day out at the park I made an appointment later afternoon to see a Pediatric Orthopedic Dr Yong Su Mei at Park City Medical Centre.”
Dr. Yong suspected that something was wrong, “Xray was done & it was clear but our life saver Dr Yong was concerned about Ethan’s bloated stomach & noted that he was a little on the pale side. She then suggested & insisted & referred us to Pediatrician Dr Liew Pei Sze.”
“Dr Liew attempted to “touch & feel” Ethan’s tummy (actually was the spleen & liver) She ordered for a complete blood count to be done (CBC) … while waiting for the nurse to prepare.”
“I started googling … I gauged Dr Yong & Dr Liew facial expression along with what I find on google … my world was on a standstill …”
“It took “forever” for the blood result to be out, I called my close friend Ang SH, her precious angel battled leukaemia before gaining his angel wings recently.”
“SooHsia tried to calm me, what are the odds of 2 good friends with their sons having leukaemia? At 6:38pm of 19/5/15 DrLiew broke the news; WBC was at 24 (normal is 7, a bit higher if infection) Dr Liew said this; and yes I remember each word like it was yesterday!”
The doctor said, “Mommy Ethan, from the blood test, I am sorry to say the probability of leukaemia, a form of blood cancer is very high. Ethan’s platelet & haemoglobin is at a dangerous stage, we need him admitted & will transport him out by ambulance the next morning at 7am to SJMC.”
“He needs both blood & platelet transfusion. He will be referred to Dr Chan, a paediatric haematologist & oncologist, they will do a bone marrow aspiration to finalize the type & to find out more. I’m so sorry Mommy Ethan, are you ok?”
Mary will never forget that day, “I was “never” ok after that day, how can I? So you see, symptoms vary & some take a long time to surface.”
“Most of Ethan’s symptoms were very much associated with growing pains, most of the time they are actually.”
Finally, she has this message for all parents, “I don’t mean to give everyone a fright but awareness is REALLY VERY IMPORTANT!!! And if I had to talk about it daily for the rest of my life so be it, I will.”
PHOTO: FACEBOOK / MARY ANNE LOH
Thank you, Mary, for sharing this very important information, and creating awareness about the symptoms we so often overlook. It has been 4.5 years since Ethan started his treatment, and we are glad that he’s recovering well…
Leukaemia in children
Leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. These abnormal and defective white cells crowd the bone marrow and flood the bloodstream.
As leukaemia progresses, cancer interferes with the body’s production of other types of blood cells, including red blood cells and platelets. This results in anaemia (low numbers of red cells) and bleeding problems, in addition to the increased risk of infection caused by white cell abnormalities.
Leukaemia is the most common type of cancer in children and teens.
With proper treatment though, most children with leukaemia will be free of the disease without it coming back.
Symptoms of leukaemia in children include:
- Fatigue or pale skin
- Infections and fever
- Easy bleeding or bruising, experiencing frequent nosebleeds, or bleeding for an unusually long time after even a minor cut, because leukaemia destroys the bone marrow’s ability to produce clot-forming platelets.
- Extreme fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Bone or joint pain
- Swelling in the abdomen, face, arms, underarms, sides of the neck, or groin (swollen lymph nodes)
- Swelling above the collar bone
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Headaches, seizures, balance problems, or abnormal vision
- Gum problems
Also READ: Breakthrough for leukaemia in children
(Source: WebMD, KidsHealth)