WHEN Freddie Dixon’s parents noticed large lumps developing on his neck, they were understandably worried.
But it was only after visiting seven doctors that their eight-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer.
In fact, by the time the primary school pupil from Nottingham got to hospital, his family was told that his was a “life or death situation”.
Freddie’s mum Lauren Chambers and dad Adam Dixon said they raised concerns with doctors after noticing large lumps appearing on his neck.
But they were told he simply had a viral infection.
After his condition took a turn for the worse, he was rushed to hospial where an MRI scan revealed that as well as the neck lumps, he had a tumour in his shoulder, pancreas and “one the size of his fist” behind his nose – close to his brain.
Due to the size of the tumours in his neck, Freddie was having breathing issues and began to feel unwell.
A biopsy confirmed that the tumours were cancerous and his family were told that he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
His mum said: “He’s just completed his first cycle of chemotherapy, which ended on Friday (June 21) and he’s recovering at home.
“He’s just sleeping all the time. He’s not really talking, because his mouth his very sore. He can barely smile.
“We are just taking each day as it comes.”
Lauren first noticed the lumps on Freddie’s neck at the start of May.
Her GP prescribed Freddie with a week-long course of antibiotics and sent him on his way.
A week later, another lump appeared and Lauren took him to A&E – but told the Nottingham Post that “no one was concerned”.
She was then advised to ask for a referral to see a pediatrician but there were no appointments for 11 days – by which time, a third lump had appeared.
I think as time goes on I will be more angry and will want to raise a complaint. I feel let down and it should have been investigated a lot sooner
It was only on 31 May that Freddie was finally scanned – by which time he’d been seen by seven different doctors.
The lumps had become so large, docs said, that they were crushing the boy’s airway.
With surgery being too dangerous to perform, Freddie was put on steroids for four days to reduce the size of the tumours before he could have the biopsy.
That confirmed that the tumours were cancerous and he was moved to the children’s cancer ward at Queen’s Medical Centre to begin treatment.
Symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that attacks the lymphatic system.
It starts in the white blood cells, which are part of the body’s immune system.
More than 12,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year.
Signs can include:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
- Chest pain, breathing difficulties or coughing
- Persistent fatigue
- Fevers or night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is via a biopsy.
Although he faces six months of gruelling treatment, doctors believe that Freddie has a high 90 per cent chance of beating his cancer.
Mum Lauren says that he knows he has cancer and that he’ll lose his hair.
“I’m just thinking about Freddie getting better, but I think as time goes on I will be more angry and will want to raise a complaint,” she said.
“I feel let down and it should have been investigated a lot sooner.
“We are just trying to stay hopeful that he can be out in time for his birthday and Christmas.”
To support her son, Lauren has had to get a six-month sick note from work, and friends have offered to take care of the couple’s baby daughter so they can be by Freddie’s side.
Freddie’s classmates are even recording an original song to help support him through his treatment.
“A song for Freddie” is going to be sung by 24 children from Bagthorpe Primary School.
It’s been written by Jodie Smith, who told the Nottingham Post that she was “lost for words” when she found out about Freddie’s condition.
“You just can’t imagine what the family is going through. You feel powerless.”
A spokesman for Sherwood Forest Hospitals told the paper: “We would like to extend our sympathies to Freddie and his family, and wish him all the best with his ongoing treatment.
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“It isn’t appropriate for us to discuss a patient’s individual care, but in general terms we follow clear evidence-based processes for the diagnosis of serious diseases such as cancer based on the information available to clinical staff at the time.
“As this is the first time that these concerns have been raised to us we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this in more detail with Freddie’s family if they wish to contact us directly through our Patient Experience Team.”
A spokesman for NHS Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “All feedback and complaints are treated seriously and confidentially.”
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