Docs thought my boy had sickness bug but 'virus' turned out to be deadly blood cancer

A SCHOOLBOY was sent home by doctors with a sickness bug – only to be diagnosed with a deadly blood cancer.

Lewis Wright, 12, was discharged from hospital with a suspected 72-hour virus and told to rest up and stay hydrated.

But as his condition worsened, tests revealed the youngster, from Southport, Merseyside, was battling leukaemia – with the cancer threatening to spread into his brain.

The Year 7 pupil is undergoing intensive chemotherapy at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool to halt the cancer.

Mum Kayleigh, a carer, said her brave son has been given “more needles than I have had in my whole life” since his shock diagnosis earlier this month.

She said: “The courage he has is unreal and I can't begin to explain how proud I am of my boy.

“His treatment is strong and intense and we were told it would floor a fully grown man that was an athlete. They weren't wrong.

“Lewis has been so, so poorly from the side effects. He has lost one stone in weight in a week and has been prodded, poked and had more needles than I have had in my whole life.

“During his first dose of chemotherapy Lewis made the decision to shave his head before he lost his hair to keep some control over the whole situation.

“Throughout it all he has remained strong, positive and has been absolutely amazing.”

Shock diagnosis

Lewis fell unwell with chest and back pain on July 10 after just two days reunited with friends at Birkdale High School following lockdown.

He was taken to Ormskirk hospital, Lancs, but sent home with a virus diagnosis and told to rest.

Two days later Lewis was admitted to Alder Hey in Liverpool and diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Around 2,600 people each year are diagnosed with the cancer, which affects cells in bone marrow and attacks the immune system.

What is acute myeloid leukaemia?

Around 2,600 people each year are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer which effects cells in bone marrow and attacks the immune system.

The disease is often classified as what type of cell is affected (myeloid or lymphatic) and how it progresses (acute or chronic).

Acute leukaemia is when it is progressing aggressively and requires immediate attention.

The risk of developing acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) increases with age, with the cancer being most common in adults over 65.

Typically the symptoms of AML can become increasingly more severe over time.

According to the NHS website, the signs to look out for include:

  • Looking pale or "washed out"
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Breathlessness
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual and frequent bruising or bleeding, such as bleeding gums or nosebleeds
  • Losing weight without trying to

Speak to a GP if you or your child have possible symptoms of AML.

It is a rapidly progressive disease which is more common in adults.

Lewis has already undergone numerous blood transfusions and started an intensive chemotherapy to prevent this cancer spreading to his brain.

It has turned life upside down for Kayleigh, dad Richard, big sister Caitlin and brother, Malakye.

Kayleigh said: “He started having pains in his chest and back which then started in his knees too.

“I took him to Ormskirk District General Hospital where I was told he had a virus and he should be fine in three days, and we were sent home.

“The following day his pains got worse and started to spread into other joints.

“It got to the afternoon and he was really struggling so I took him back to Ormskirk Hospital again where they examined him, took x-rays and blood tests and gave him strong pain relief.

“We waited for three hours for blood results and at about 11.30pm we got the devastating news that they suspected it was leukaemia and there was an ambulance on its way to take us to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

“A million thoughts went through my mind. Surely he couldn't have leukaemia?

"He was absolutely fine until Friday. Surely it can't come on that fast.”

Lewis will have to stay in hospital for at least two months undergoing the initial intense course of therapy and then further treatments over the next six months.

Kayleigh added: “It will be a long road to recovery and I am in no doubt it will have its ups and downs but I know this boy of mine can fight this every step of the way.”

Kayleigh’s cousin, Louise McHugh, has set up a fundraising page online with a £5,000 target.

Louise said: “Everyone knows Lewis by his big smile – even now in these hard times.

“Lewis has got this personality where you can be in the worst mood and he can just change that in seconds.

“He smiles and the whole room lights up.

“Other than being a little comedian, he is also sensitive, sweet and has a massive heart.”

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