Search icon

Children's health

17th Sep 2021

Mum issues warning to parents after son’s bruises led to cancer diagnosis

Kat O'Connor

“When I heard the word leukaemia I just thought ‘he’s going to die”

One mum is warning parents to get unusual symptoms in children checked after her son was diagnosed with cancer.

She explained that her son was covered in bruises but presumed they were from playing.

Like any other parent, Kimberley McFarquhar presumed the bruises on her son’s legs were simply from him playing.

Toddlers often have bruises or cuts from falling in the playground or playing with their siblings. It’s something parents come to expect when they’re that age and full of mischief.

However, the 31-year-old mum started to grow concerned about her 3-year-old boy Harry.

Her son developed breathing problems and when Covid was ruled out she knew it was something more serious like a chest infection.

The last thing the mum ever expected was to hear that her son actually had cancer.

She told the Liverpool Echo that the doctor diagnosed Harry with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in May.

Harry’s father was in remission from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but doctors stressed that Harry’s diagnosis was nothing but an “awful coincidence”.

“When I heard the word leukaemia I just thought ‘he’s going to die. Around the time Harry was diagnosed Ashley Cain’s daughter Azaylia had just passed away from leukaemia and that was fresh in my mind,” the mum said.

“It was a massive blow, you just don’t think it will be something that will ever happen to you,” she added.

Harry is now four months into his chemotherapy treatment.

Over 1,000 people predicted to be on trolleys in Irish hospitals this winter

Harry’s symptoms included bruises on his legs, pale skin, tiredness and chest infection symptoms.

“It was a bolt out of the blue hearing that because it was so unexpected. Kids that age are forever getting viral infections and chest infections because they’re mixing with each other,” she said.

The mum said Harry is doing well but has his bad days.

“We’re still in the first six months, Harry’s doing ok but it’s very up and down.”

She explained that they’ve been through this before with her husband’s cancer diagnosis, but seeing a child go through it is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“It’s heartbreaking. I often sit there and wish I could swap places with him. There have been many times I’ve sat there thinking ‘let it be me’. If I could, I would take it away from him in a heartbeat.”

The mum urged other parents to get unusual symptoms checked out, especially if you’re feeling unsure about them.

“A parent knows their child best and if anyone has any concerns or feels that something isn’t right, I would advise to go get it checked out.”

She stressed that if you’re not happy with what your doctor tells you then to get a second opinion.

You can never be too sure, the mum added.

“We never in a million years thought we’d be affected by this but we have been and it’s so easy for us to pass off the symptoms as something else.”

Harry’s parents have set up a fundraising page. You can support them here.