Hepatoblastoma affects one in one million children (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
When two-year-old Grace lost her appetite and was more tired than usual, her mum Louise Millward took her to the GP.
After a referral to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, doctors suspected that Grace had constipation or appendicitis – so was treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and sent home.
But the two-year-old’s health continued to deteriorate, as she started losing her balance and being sick.
Then, five months after the initial ordeal, Louise also noticed her daughter’s stomach was swollen.
The mum-of-two and her partner, Don, became concerned doctors had misdiagnosed their daughter when she kept falling over – so rushed her to hospital.
After further tests, Grace was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma – a rare cancer which affects just one in one million children.
Grace before was diagnosed with liver cancer (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
Receiving treatment at Birmingham Children’s Waterfall House (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
Sharing her frustration at the missed diagnosis, Louise says: ‘The doctors reassured us that it was constipation and we just thought that it was all sorted.
‘Because what she has in children is so rare, to some degree I am angry it was missed.
‘The size of the tumour when she was diagnosed was 14cm in length. For a 23-month-old child to have a 14cm length tumour in her liver is huge – that is why it was protruding out of her stomach.
‘Had it been picked up properly in May, then maybe it wouldn’t have been as big and could have been resolved on a slightly different avenue.’
Doctors initially thought Grace had constipation or appendicitis (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
But months later she was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
When Grace was admitted for the second time in October and was pending investigation, Louise even Googled her child’s symptoms – which suggested it was likely to be cancer.
But by the time the diagnosis came through, Grace’s right lung had collapsed, she had a bleed in her liver and her haemoglobin levels had dropped.
Grace before treatment (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
She’s now undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy (Picture: Louise Millward / SWNS)
Now the toddler is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a bid to shrink the tumour.
Louise, from Inkberrow, adds: ‘We signed up to a clinical trial which looks at the toxicity levels of the chemotherapy drugs to treat this cancer.
‘At the end of December, we had a 13% reduction in tumour size. The surgeons will now decide what happens next.
‘As for the future, we don’t know – but the chemotherapy is shrinking the tumour.
‘Grace’s cure is having it removed by a resection or transplant. The surgeons have told us she can survive with a third of her liver.’
After setting up a GoFundme Page with a £750 target, the family have received £5,815 in donations so far.
They plan to use the money to give Grace a bedroom makeover, a trip to the zoo and a family holiday.
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