Devasted: ‘You never think it could happen to your own little boy’

The parents of a three-year-old boy have told of the devastating moment doctors told them a suspected ear infection was actually a life-threatening brain tumour.

Mitchell Brown was a healthy, active young boy until his parents noticed he had become unwell over Christmas and New Year.

But on January 3 his parents, Tony and Tara, took him for a visit to the GP that would turn their lives upside down.

Mitchell or Mitchie Brown is 3 and found out he had brain cancer on Jan 3 after being unwell over Christmas and New Year. He has just finished radiotherapy and has 4 months of chemo coming up.

Just 36 hours after leaving his Longridge home, Mitchell had been for scans at Royal Preston Hospital and was going into theatre for an 11-hour operation to remove the tumour on the base of his brain.

“When they draw the curtains around you at the hospital and say, ‘I’m really sorry, it’s not an ear infection. Your son has a brain tumour’ in the blink of an eye, your whole life changes,” Tony said.

“You see it on television and in the news but you never think it will happen to someone you know – never mind our three-year-old boy.”

Now, brave Mitchie, as he is affectionately known, has just finished six weeks of radiotherapy and will begin four months of chemotherapy.

And despite going through a family’s worst nightmare Tony and Tara, who also have a four-year-old daughter, Zoe have already began to think of others in their position.

Dozens of fundraising activities have been organised with the help of friends – raising thousands for Cancer Research UK.

Insurance broker Tony said: “Mitchie’s chances aren’t looking good but he’s done well so far and we know he’ll keep fighting.

Mitchell or Mitchie Brown is 3 and found out he had brain cancer on Jan 3 after being unwell over Christmas and New Year. He has just finished radiotherapy and has 4 months of chemo coming up. Pictured with 4yr old sister Zoe

“We’re lucky in that we don’t have any money problems and have lots of family and friends to help support Mitchell through this.

“But the NHS and its doctors and nurses have been brilliant through all of this so we wanted to do something to help find a cure because we don’t want this to happen to other children.”

From charity football matches and gigantic swims to coast to coast bike rides and Tough Mudders, hundreds of friends and family, as well as Mitchie’s Longridge nursery Little People of the Limes, have got on board with the fundraising push.

Tony said: “It’s humbling to see so many people getting involved and sending such touching messages of support.

“At first we only wanted to raise a few hundred pounds but it’s gone much further than that and we’re so grateful for everything everyone has done.” To get involved with the Brown family’s appeal search ‘Miles for Mitchie’ on the Cancer Research website, cancer research UK

Mitchell or Mitchie Brown is 3 and found out he had brain cancer on Jan 3 after being unwell over Christmas and New Year. He has just finished radiotherapy and has 4 months of chemo coming up. Mitchell is pictured with mum, Tara, dad, Tony and 4-year-old sister Zoe.

What research are CRUK funding into brain tumours?

Despite significant progress in research, brain tumours remain challenging to treat and there has been little improvement in survival over the last 40 years.

A CRUK spokesamn said: “Tackling brain tumours is one of Cancer Research UK’s top priorities and is boosting investment into this area.

“To achieve our goal of improving the outlook for patients with brain tumours – both children and adults – we’re funding research across the board, from lab research to understand more about brain tumours, all the way through to clinical trials to test new treatments in people.

“To help improve the outlook for children with brain tumours, Cancer Research UK is supporting researchers like Professor Steven Clifford, who is developing tests to help make sure that children with the most common type of childhood brain tumour, medulloblastoma, get the best treatment that is right for them.

“Professor Richard Gilbertson is also working on medulloblastoma and another common brain tumour called ependymoma. He’s dedicated to understanding more about the underlying biology of these tumours and identifying different types of the diseases, which could help make treatments more effective and kinder.

“And in Nottingham, Professor Richard Grundy is setting up an important clinical trial to find the best way of treating children with epepdymoma, to improve the chances of surviving for these children.”

Mitchell or Mitchie Brown is 3 and found out he had brain cancer on Jan 3 after being unwell over Christmas and New Year. He has just finished radiotherapy and has 4 months of chemo coming up. Mitchell is pictured with mum, Tara, dad, Tony and 4-year-old sister Zoe.

Q&A

Sadly, this isn’t the first time in the last five years the Lancashire Post a young child’s brave fight against brain cancer.

Readers have closely followed the journeys of Melanie Grant, 12, five-year-old Pippa Cole and Katy Holmes, 10, after being diagnosed with brain tumours.

Their families have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness and money in aid of various charities to help others in the same permission.

Here, the Brown family’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK discusses facts around brain cancer in young people as well as the work it is doing to eradicate the disease.

How rare is a brain tumour in the under-fives?

Around 180 children under the age of five are diagnosed with brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours every year in the UK.

What are the symptoms?

There are many different types of children’s brain tumours, including medulloblastoma, ependymoma and gliomas. Symptoms vary depending on the type, size and position of the tumour.

But symptoms can include headaches, vomiting, seizures, changes in behaviour and eye problems including blood vision. If your child has these symptoms it’s unlikely to be cancer but it’s important to visit a GP if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

How is it treated?

There are different types of children’s brain tumours and treatment won’t be the same for everyone. The doctor will consider the age of the patient, the type of brain tumour, its size and position before choosing what will be most effective.

The main treatments for children’s brain tumours include surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, radiotherapy to destroy cancer cells and chemotherapy drugs. A child may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

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Mums dying wish ignored by Royal Preston Hospital claims son

A grieving son has slammed hospital staff after his mother was denied her dying wish to be with her family at the end.

Joe Robinson claimed mum Jean had no relatives with her when she passed away at the Royal Preston Hospital following a lengthy illness.

“She wanted to die at home and they had enough time to bring her back to be with us,” said Mr Robinson of Sulby Drive, Ribbleton.
“Not only that, they didn’t even give us a ring so we could get to the hospital to be with her. She died at half past three in the morning and my sister didn’t get a call until half past five. We are all very upset thinking mum didn’t get her last wish.”

Mrs Robinson, 72, suffered from severe breathing difficulties due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had been ill for a number of years. Son Joe said she had been discharged twice from RPH in recent weeks, only to be re-admitted straight away.

“The first time it was just 35 minutes between coming home and going back in. We couldn’t believe the hospital thought she was well enough to come home on both occasions when she clearly wasn’t. It was almost as if they needed the bed.

“The last time she was taken in they kept her in. Yet, when she started to deteriorate on the night she died, they didn’t call us until it was too late.

“I understand they also tried to revive her even though she had said she didn’t want resuscitating. I’m upset because I think she deserved better.”

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Huge rise in 12-hour waits at Preston A&E

The number of patients waiting 12 hours or more at A&E in Preston and Chorley has increased eight-fold in just four years, new statistics have revealed.

A total of 426 accident and emergency patients waited 12 hours or more to be treated, transferred or admitted last year.

That compares to just 53 left waiting for half a day or more in 2011/12 – although last year’s figures were significantly lower than in 2014/15 when a high of 640 was recorded.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has revealed its emergency departments are seeing an extra 4,000 patients a year.

It also says there are “at least 60 people” in hospital every day who cannot be discharged because arrangements are not in place to meet their ongoing health and social care needs.

The most likely group to be left with extremely long waits were those aged 80-89. None under the age of 19 had to wait for 12 hours or more, the figures showed.

In hospitals throughout England 48,128 people faced waits of 12-plus hours in 2011-12, By 2016 that had reached 185,017 people, including 4,080 children aged nine or younger, and 55,969 aged 80-plus.

NHS Digital released the figures during a period of intensive media scrutiny of the NHS and its ability to cope with an ever-increasing demand, with trusts across the country struggling with a huge demand.

The news came on the same day that a Preston man claimed his 72-year-old mother was forced to wait on a trolley at the Royal Preston Hospital for around 40 hours last winter because doctors had no bed for her.

Joe Robinson said mum Jean, who has long-term breathing problems, was “left in a corridor and forgotten about” because the hospital was unable to cope with an avalanche of new patients coming through A&E.

“There were lines and lines of beds on the corridor with people just lying there waiting to go to a ward,” he said at home in Sulby Drive, Ribbleton.

“Mum was on oxygen and the mask was making her face sore. She was quite distressed throughout, but no-one apologised to her.”

Mrs Robinson was back in hospital last week with an infection. But, claims son Joe, she was discharged from a ward too soon, only to be taken straight back in by ambulance less than an hour after arriving home.

“I know the hospitals are struggling and the staff are working flat out. But patients shouldn’t be going home to make way for others when they clearly aren’t well enough to be discharged.”

Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We sincerely apologise for any distress that has been caused. Our priority is to always provide excellent care with compassion for our patients; we have discussed the issue with Jean and her family and we are looking into the matter.

“If Jean and her family wish to take the issue further we would encourage them to contact our Customer Care team.”

Speaking about the general situation in A&E in central Lancashire, Suzanne Hargreaves, operations director at the trust, said: “Over the last year we have seen over 4,000 more patients attend our emergency department compared to the year before.

“We are now seeing a constant steady rise in the number of elderly people with urgent care needs both attending and being admitted to hospital and an increase in the length of time patients are staying in hospital.

“In our hospitals every day there are at least 60 people, often many more, who no longer require our specialist care because arrangements aren’t in place to meet their ongoing health and social care needs.”

She continued: “Our priority is to provide the highest standards of care for our patients and we continue to do everything we possibly can to maintain all of our services, however at times patients who do not have life threatening conditions may need to wait longer than we would like whilst we treat patients with serious conditions who need urgent care.

“I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who has had to wait a long time to be seen, we try our very best to deal with patients as quickly as possible.

“We hope patients and their families can see that all of our staff are absolutely committed to making sure anyone who requires urgent treatment is admitted to hospital promptly, and are doing all we can to continue to provide the highest standard of care.”

A row has broken out between Prime Minister Theresa May, who said the health service got the funding it asked for, and NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, who described that statement as “stretching it.”

Mrs May said the NHS had got what it asked for in its five-year plan, saying: “We gave them that funding, in fact we gave them more funding than they required. So funding is now at record levels for the NHS, more money has been going in.”

But in October, MPs said Mrs May’s claims that the Government was putting £10bn extra into the NHS were untrue and said the £10bn figure could only be reached by adding an extra year to the spending review period, changing the date from which the real terms increase is calculated and disregarding the total health budget.

Mr Stevens said: “Well it’s right that by 2020 NHS England will be getting an extra £10bn over the course of six years.

“I don’t think that’s the same as saying we are getting more than we asked for over five years because it was a five-year forward view, not a six-year forward view.

“In the here and now there are very real pressures. This is not because hospitals are being feckless. It doesn’t help anybody to pretend there aren’t finance gaps.”

County Councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “There are huge demands on the whole health and social care system during the winter which is why we’ve made up to £500k available to help to ease pressures on our hospitals.

“Our social care team is surveying the situations at local hospitals and identifying measures we can take to speed up discharges. The £500k is being used to fund any extra action they take.

“We face challenges caused by reducing budgets and rising demands on our services. We are working very closely with NHS organisations and other partners on how we can manage future demand.

“I am committed to doing all we can for our frail elderly. citizens over the winter months.”

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