Cancer often presents itself in subtle and unexpected ways. This makes listening to any unusual changes in your body front and centre. However, Adam was just two years old when he started battling the daunting condition. Fortunately, his mum Sheena Harrad, now 37, persisted until her boy got the right diagnosis.
Sheena, from Coalville, Derbyshire, took Adam to see doctors when she grew concerned about his lack of verbal communication and increased crying.
However, the experts put down the two-year-old’s distress to constipation, instructing Sheena that he just needs potty training.
Speaking of her struggle to get help, she said: “He couldn’t speak much, he was crying constantly and I kept taking him to the doctors but they were saying he was constipated.”
Sheena didn’t feel satisfied with this answer and kept going in and out of accident and emergency departments, each time being told there was nothing wrong.
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It wasn’t until Adam was five years old that he finally received his diagnosis at the Nottingham University Hospital in 2020.
An MRI scan revealed he had ganglioneuroblastoma, which describes an intermediate tumour that arises from nerve tissues.
An intermediate tumour is one that is between benign (slow-growing and unlikely to spread) and malignant (aggressive and likely to travel).
This means that ganglioneuroblastoma contains both of these parts, making it cancerous.
Adam had a 15-centimetre tumour in his stomach and another one wrapped around his spine.
The position of these pesky tumours explains why he had toilet troubles and difficulty walking.
The brave five-year-old underwent a 12 hours operation where his stomach and spine tumours were removed.
Sheena said: “After the 12-hour surgery, I got a phone call saying it was urgent and I had to go to the hospital. I thought he was dead.
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“They removed his stomach tumour but there is a bit left on his spine that is still being monitored.
“He has bent legs, he will never be able to walk.”
Doctors are now monitoring the size of the spine tumour so Adam’s cancer doesn’t come back.
Sheena added: “It is horrible – every test that comes you are s**g yourself. He is still in and out of the hospital for various tests.
“We found a lump on his back last week. We rushed him to A&E and found out the lump was because his spine is more bent.”
Now aged eight, Adam is back at school and playing with his friends. His mum Sheena is glad she persisted until she found an explanation for his symptoms.
Due to Adam’s scoliosis and the weakness in his legs, he gets around using a walking aid.
Sheena added: “No obstacle is too big or too small for him. He is very sassy. You wouldn’t think there is anything wrong with him.
“He loves playing on his Xbox, superheroes and eating – he is a typical lad at that age.”
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