A COUPLE thought their little boy was just clingy and fussy – then they were told he might have just two weeks to live.
Archer Crawford-Speakman used to take one bite of his dinner then say he was full, and he struggled to let go of his mum.
He then started to become increasingly more tired and subdued, and he later developed a phobia of water.
His parents Jade and Adam were slightly concerned, but brushed his behaviour off as that of a "typical toddler".
However, in December 2021, a lump popped out of his stomach, leaving the two-year-old lying awake in pain all night.
Jade, from Nottingham, took him to the GP who couldn't determine what it was, then later visited A&E where doctors suspected he might have an issue with his kidneys.
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A series of tests revealed he actually had high-risk neuroblastoma – a rare cancer that develops from immature nerve cells – which could kill him.
Jade, 29, told NottinghamshireLive: "I had a feeling that that was what it was going to be, but obviously nothing prepares you for being told your child's got cancer.
"It's every parent's worst nightmare. And nothing prepares you for hearing the words, 'We estimate your son has two weeks to live'.
"There were little things that, in hindsight, are all symptoms, but we just put them down to him being a toddler during the pandemic.
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"We thought he was just being a fussy toddler, but it was actually just the tumour."
Archer started chemotherapy then later had surgery to remove the tumour, as well as one of his kidneys and have a feeding tube fitted.
He suffered "every side effect going", including vomiting blood, severe mucositis and difficulty breathing, so he was bed bound.
"It was the worst time of our lives," Jade told the charity Children With Cancer.
Archer spent almost the whole of 2022 in hospital, before finally being discharged on December 22 last year.
Despite his initial bleak outlook, the tot is now happily at home awaiting his end-of-treatment scans to find out if he is cancer-free.
"He's like a completely different child," his mum said.
"Archer has been through so much and we’re incredibly proud of how strong he’s been and the recovery he has made."
Nothing prepares you for hearing the words, 'We estimate your son has two weeks to live'.
Now four, he is due to start his first year of school next month and have two caravan holidays to "make up for missed time".
The family hope by sharing their story, they can inform others on the symptoms of childhood cancer and highlight the importance of new research to help beat the disease.
Around 1,800 new cancer cases are diagnosed in children every year in the UK, with 250 deaths, according to Cancer Research UK.
Neuroblastoma is classified as an embryonal tumour – a type of cancer that develops from the cells left behind from a baby’s development in the womb.
It is a rare cancer that affects around 100 kids each year, mostly under the age of five.
It usually starts in the abdomen area, and the most common symptoms include:
- Swelling in the tummy
- Loss of movement in the lower part of the body
- Difficulty swallowing
In around half of children, the neuroblastoma has spread to another part of the body by the time they are diagnosed.
Depending on where it has spread and how big it is, they might experience:
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- Loss of appetite
Treatment can involve surgery, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.
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