Devastated Doncaster parents have told how it took two years for their five-year-old daughter’s cancer to be diagnosed – and say they want to make sure no one else has to go through what they have.
Trevor and Lyndsey Carte, of Skellow, want to make sure that no other youngsters have to wait as long as their daughter Myla before they start treatment for the condition.
Lyndsey says she first took Myla to the doctors two years ago with symptoms she now thinks were the first signs of her cancer, after her daughter started suffering stomach cramps and vomiting. She said they made around 10 trips in all relating to similar symptoms.
And on three occasions, she says they were referred to the Doncaster Royal Infirmary because she was in pain, without anyone realising she had cancer.
But Lyndsey said: “Doctors said that it was viral – and the last time we went they said it was a water infection.
“I thought perhaps it was a food allergy, but they were saying there was nothing that they could do because it was a virus.
“They examined her stomach but a virus was all they said. You put your trust in doctors – what else can you do?”
She was taken to hospital for the second time at Christmas 2017, when doctors initially checked her for possible appendicitis.
Myla went to the doctors again at end of May this year, because she was screaming in agony. She was transferred to the children’s observation unit at Doncaster Royal Infirmary for tests. It was put down to a water infection initially and she was given antibiotics.
Lyndsey rang the next day to say she thought the antibiotics were making her sick, and she returned to the hospital again two days later.
That was when doctors felt something in her abdomen – which was found to be the tumour.
Myla was sent to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for more tests, where a scan revealed a tumour which doctors told her they thought had been there for two years.
“They said they’d never seen anything as big in a five year old,” said Lyndsey.
Doctors have told her they believe they have a 60 per cent chance of saving her – lower than it would have been if it had been picked up earlier.
Dad Trevor said: “We just want Myla to be all right.
“It has absolutely devastated us as a family. But we want to make sure that no one else has to go through what Myla has been through. We want this sort of thing to be found early.
“It could have been a totally different story if they had found it early. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
The couple have not yet made any official complaints.
Doctors operated and removed a kidney which had the large tumour on it. There were also tumours in her lung and stomach which are being treated.
She has now started chemotherapy, and will undergo treatment for 34 weeks.
Trevor said: “She is really weak and can’t walk at the moment, and she’s lost her hair. She’s lost half a stone. But she’s a very brave girl.
“She says she wants to get better and has been really grown up.
“We’ve got to keep positive.”
Lyndsey is spending a lot of time with Myla in the hospital, and said it had been hard to see much of her other two daughters, Maicie, aged eight, and Madie, aged four.
Meanwhile, the community has rallied around the family.
Friends have been running fundraisers to try to arrange a special treat for Myla when she is well enough.
A recent fun day in Skellow raised around £2,000 and two boxing nights are planned at Skellow Grange, organised by friends Steve Lock and Darren Simpson. A big golfing event is also planned, arranged by Trevor’s employers, Attero Recycling Ltd, in Rossington.
Myla, who loves unicorns and watching the youtuber Tiana, was able to attend the fun day, spending three hours there.
Sue Bushell, Business Manager, Great North Medical Group, which runs Carcroft Health Centre, said: “Our senior partner has investigated this for me, and has confirmed that we acted on this immediately, when the problem was brought to our attention.”
Mr Sewa Singh, Medical Director at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: “Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Myla and her family during this very difficult time.
“We would invite Myla’s family to get in touch with our Patient Experience Team if they are concerned about any aspects of her care at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.”
Family friend Steve Lock, who organised the family fun day at Skellow Grange, said he was delighted Myla had been able to attend.
He said: The community is really supportive, and the response to the fun day was amazing. It was great to see Myla there, and were were able to arrange a unicorn show for her, which she seemed to love.
“She has charmed everyone.”
Steve is now looking to raise more money through the boxing shows later this year. Anyone who wants to book tickets can call him on 07810 396294.