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Mum's Warning After Toddler's 'Harmless Bruises' Turned Out To Be Cancer

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Mum's Warning After Toddler's 'Harmless Bruises' Turned Out To Be Cancer

A mother has warned parents to be vigilant after three unassuming bruises on her son's legs ended up being early signs of cancer.

Kimberley McFarquhar, 31, hadn't thought much of it when her three year old son, Harry, had some bruises on his legs back in May, putting them down to the energetic toddler's rough-and-tumble play.

But when the tot, now four, started experiencing breathing difficulties, and Covid-19 was ruled out, Kimberley and 37-year-old mortgage representative husband James McFarquhar discovered he actually had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia - a rare type of cancer that affects white blood cells, and needs immediate treatment due to its quick progression.

Having gone to the GP and then the hospital believing their son simply had a chest infection, the parents were devastated to hear his diagnosis.

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Kimberley and James' son Harry was diagnosed with cancer (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)
Kimberley and James' son Harry was diagnosed with cancer (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)

Harry was submitted for intense treatment just 12 hours after the cancer was detected.

Despite being in remission for a blood-based cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma back in 2015, James has been assured by several consultants that Harry's subsequent diagnosis is unrelated and simply an 'awful coincidence'.

Four months into Harry's gruelling chemotherapy treatment, the mum-of-one is sharing the family's experience to urge parents to get any unusual symptoms checked out.

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Kimberley, from Northampton, East Midlands, said: "When I heard the word 'leukaemia' I just thought 'he's going to die'.

"Around the time Harry was diagnosed Ashley Cain's daughter Azaylia had just passed away from leukaemia and that was fresh in my mind.

"I couldn't get that thought out of my head, it was horrific.

Harry had to undergo immediate treatment (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)
Harry had to undergo immediate treatment (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)
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"It was a massive blow, you just don't think it will be something that will ever happen to you."

Playful Harry started looking pale in February and, under the recommendation of Kimberley's nurse mum Claire Hancock, he was checked out at the doctors and underwent a blood test to rule out anaemia that came back clear.

At the beginning of May the tot was experiencing tiredness and had some bruises on his legs.

When Harry started experiencing chest infection symptoms he had another visit to the doctors who dished out antibiotics and an inhaler in the hope of clearing it up.

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But when he started to struggle breathing, and Covid tests came back clear, the couple rushed him to Northampton General Hospital on May 17th to get checked out.

There, doctors examined Harry, took blood tests and the following day told his devastated parents he had leukaemia.

Harry went into hospital with breathing difficulty (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)
Harry went into hospital with breathing difficulty (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)

Kimberley said that the blow was even more devastating because Harry was their "miracle baby", in the midst of James' cancer battle.

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"We were told we wouldn't be able to have him because of my husband's chemotherapy treatment, Harry's our little miracle," she said.

"Harry was very outgoing, enjoyed being with his friends and going to pre-school - just a normal, happy and healthy child.

"It was a bolt out of the blue hearing [the diagnosis] because it was so unexpected. Kids that age are forever getting viral infections and chest infections because they're mixing with each other.

"Not only were we told he had leukaemia, the second blow was that the treatment was for three-and-a-half years [in total] for boys."

When not undergoing intensive bouts of chemotherapy at Northampton General Hospital and Nottingham Children's Hospital, Harry takes oral chemotherapy medication at home that is so toxic Kimberley and James must wear rubber gloves when administering it.

Little Harry is six months into his treatment (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)
Little Harry is six months into his treatment (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)

Kimberley said: "My husband and I have been through it with his illness, it's such a hard journey and we were thinking 'how are we going to do this with our little boy?'

"We're still in the first six months, Harry's doing ok but it's very up and down.

"The chemotherapy causes him sickness, nausea and he's really lethargic, but he's doing as well as he can be expected.

"It's hard for anyone, let alone a child. It's heart breaking.

"I often sit there and wish I could swap places with him. There have been many times I've sat there thinking 'let it be me'.

"If I could, I would take it away from him in a heartbeat.

"Watching your once energetic and playful child just lying in bed not wanting to play, not having the energy to get up and being sick - I can't explain it, it's just horrific."

Harry before starting treatment (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)
Harry before starting treatment (Credit: Kennedy News & Media)

Harry's diagnosis comes six years after dad James was confirmed as being in remission for NHL.

Kimberley said: "James was blaming himself. Leukaemia and lymphoma are both blood cancers.

"If you've had one and your child gets it you think 'oh god this is down to me' but we asked numerous consultants and they said it was no way connected, just an awful coincidence."

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and Kimberley is sharing Harry's story to highlight the symptoms that can appear and to urge parents to get them checked out.

Kimberley said: "A parent knows their child best and if anyone has any concerns or feels that something isn't right, I would advise to go get it checked out.

"If you're still not happy with what you're being told, just keep pushing.

"We never in a million years thought we'd be affected by this but we have been and it's so easy for us to pass off the symptoms as something else.

"When you put it all together I would say you know your child best and get these things checked out."

You can donate to Kimberley's fundraising page here.

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News & Media

Topics: Life, Parenting

Joanna Freedman
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