Mum ‘knew something was wrong’ before 18-month-old’s heartbreaking cancer diagnosis

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Emma Rigby and her partner Dan rushed their little boy to Leighton Hospital in Cheshire two months ago, after he became very sick with a high temperature

A mum whose 18-month-old was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer said she “knew something was wrong” before receiving the devastating diagnosis.

Emma Rigby, 25, and her partner Dan Eastwood rushed their little boy to Leighton Hospital in Cheshire two months ago, after he became very sick with a high temperature.

Emme said James was very rarely sick, which prompted her to suspect something wasn’t right.

Staff at Leighton Hospital gave James antibiotics straightaway, to keep his vitals steady.

But after three hours they called for an ambulance and had him referred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool as an emergency case.

Under the care of Alder Hey, James was given an ultrasound to find the cause of his sudden illness, reports the Liverpool Echo.

The ultrasound came back, and James was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour – a type of kidney cancer in children.

About 70 children in the UK develop a Wilms’ tumour each year, and it most often affects children under the age of five.

NHS Inform website states: “Wilms’ tumour is a type of kidney cancer, it is thought to come from very specialised cells in the embryo known as metanephric blastema.

“These cells are involved in the development of the child’s kidneys while they are in the womb.

“The cells usually disappear at birth, but in many children with Wilms’ tumour, clusters of primitive kidneys cells, called nephrogenic rests can still be found.”

The reason for James becoming so ill was due to the tumour rupturing, his Mum said: “He was just out of it for around four days.”

The doctors had to perform two blood transfusions whilst James was in the High Dependency Unit, and then put the 18-month-old on a chemotherapy course for six weeks.

Emma said: “As soon as the chemo started, it was like all his energy came back right away.”

After five weeks of chemotherapy, specialists were shocked to discover that the tumour had shrunken by over half its size, to which Emma said “no one expected this”.

James was able to leave hospital during his time of chemotherapy and spent it at home with his mum and dad, 28.

The family, from Northwich in Cheshire, were relieved at how quick James was making his recovery, speaking to the ECHO his mum Emma said: “It has been hard, but we are both Christians, and it has meant the world to us to know that everyone was praying for James to get better.

“James is the happiest little boy, and he has been so positive through this whole thing.

“Even when we have been upset, he has been there with a smile on his face.”

She added: “The staff [at Alder Hey] were amazing, the knowledge of our oncologist, Lisa, kept us going.

“His surgeon, Mr Jones, acted like this was nothing [the surgery], I suppose it is just a regular day for them, it’s crazy, they really couldn’t have been better.”

James’ surgery took place on October 28, they removed his kidney to get rid of the tumour.

James left hospital on November 3 and has since had another dose of chemotherapy.

He will need to stick to chemo for at least another six months, just to ensure it has removed all traces of the tumour from his body.

NHS Inform website tells us how to look out for the symptoms of Wilms’ tumour: “The most common symptom is a swollen abdomen, which is usually painless.

“Sometimes a parent or carer may feel a lump in the abdomen which can be quite large.

“Occasionally, the tumour may bleed slightly and this can irritate the kidney and may be painful.

“There may be blood in your child’s urine, or their blood pressure may be raised. The child may also have a high temperature (fever), upset stomach, weight loss or a lack of appetite.”