A Mother's Intuition
- Louise Chessell took her son, then 2, to the doctor after a series of infections resulted in the boy limping around the house and growing increasingly pale.
- The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and said that the boy was just experiencing symptoms from his various infections, but Louise grew concerned when his neck got sore. Her son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
- When working with your medical team, tell them precisely what you feel and raise anything that may feel off to you. Every symptom should have a plan to address it, and if you feel like you are not being heard, continue to push and seek a second opinion if your concerns are not being addressed, experts tell SurvivorNet.
Louise Chessell took her son, Jensen, then 2, to the doctor after a series of infections resulted in the boy limping around the house and growing increasingly pale.Read More
Chessell began to doubt that assessment when Jensen’s condition began to worsen and eventually demanded more tests and answers from doctors.
Those tests came back positive for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“He started getting reoccurring ear infections, tonsillitis, he started limping, he was going pale. He just wasn’t himself,” Chessell told Cheshire Live of her son’s condition before that first visit to the doctor.
“He was bruising easily. He was falling over. We went to the doctors, and they were putting it down to either viral or chest infection, ear infection, tonsillitis, them types of things.”
It was a sore neck; however that convinced Chessell this was not just an infection.
“He was on constant antibiotics, and then one Thursday night, he woke up at three in the morning, and his neck was sore, and he was crying. He was two at the time, in April 2020,” she recalled. “I felt all around his neck, and he had lumps after lumps in it. I phoned my doctors on the Friday and said what I’d seen and they said it would be worst case scenario, but I asked for a blood test.”
That blood test happened on Monday, and by the end of the day, the family was being called into the hospital.
“We got there, and that’s when they said he had leukemia, blood cancer,” said Chessell.
She is now using her experience to encourage parents to trust their instincts, even if they may be wrong.
“If they feel like something isn’t right, then follow their gut instinct and push for more answers and tests. If I didn’t push for answers and tests, it could’ve gone on for a longer time with [my son] being undiagnosed,” said Chessell. “Obviously, nine times out of ten, it’s not going to be cancer really, but if you feel like your child’s not very well..”
Chessell says that it has been difficult watching her son go through chemotherapy, which began when Jensen was 2-years-old and will last through 2023.
“It’s hard to watch him go from what he was to how he did in the first nine weeks,” Chessel said. “Usually when you get diagnosed you’re only in the hospital a week or two, but we spent the first nine weeks in hospital because of how poorly he was.”
She then added: “He’d never stayed away from home, and the next thing he was in hospital getting things pumped through him, people prodding and poking him, getting put to sleep and all these types of medicines and stuff.”
Advocate for Yourself
Whether you are currently fighting cancer or fearing that you might have it, it’s essential to be your own advocate.
When working with your medical team, tell them precisely what you feel and raise anything that may feel off to you. Every symptom should have a plan to address it, and if you feel like you are not being heard, continue to push and seek a second opinion if your concerns are not being addressed.
The only way to know this is to continue to push for answers, telling your medical team exactly what you are experiencing and demanding that you receive the best treatment for your specific situation.
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” Dr. Zuri Murell, director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional– that’s what I do for all of my patients.”
Get a Second Opinion
If you’re experiencing symptoms that might be caused by cancer, it’s critical to know for sure whether or not you have the disease. To do that, you should always get multiple opinions on your diagnosis.
Doctors are not always in agreement about whether your symptoms might merit further testing and whether specific treatment methods might work best for you. Sometimes, what your first doctor says might fall short of fact, and a second or third medical professional might be able to catch cancer before it grows and spreads.
Dr. Steven Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute and one of America’s most renowned cancer doctors, agrees.
“If I had any advice for you following a cancer diagnosis, it would be, first, to seek out multiple opinions as to the best care, because finding a doctor who is up to the latest of information is important,” Rosenberg previously told SurvivorNet. “And it’s always important to get other opinions so that you can make the best decisions for yourself in consultation with your care providers.”