The mother of an inspirational East Yorkshire teenager who has won awards and recognition for her bravery and courage after being diagnosed with cancer has urged other parents to follow their instincts and demand thorough investigation should their child display worrying health symptoms.
Hope Rooms was aged just 12 when she was diagnosed with cancer, as a tumour believed to be approximately the size of three oranges grew in her abdomen, pushing her spine out of place.
Now aged 14, Hope has been in remission for a year and is due to finish her maintenance chemotherapy next month.
However, having described the days when Hope first fell ill as ‘every parent’s worst nightmare’, her mother Julie has now spoken out about her frustrations over her daughter’s early care by medical experts.
The family are currently being supported by our medical negligence experts at Hudgell Solicitors, who are investigating Hope’s treatment under Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust.
Mrs Rooms is now urging other parents to follow their own instincts and be strong when speaking to doctors and nurses and expressing their concerns.
It comes as September marks National Child Cancer Awareness Month, which is aimed at raising awareness of the impact of childhood cancer, and the work of groups and organisations which support young cancer patients and their families.
Mrs Rooms believes doctors at Hull Royal Infirmary should have sent Hope for a CT scan, and to be assessed by specialists in Leeds, much earlier than she was.
She was in Hull Royal Infirmary for a week, as she was crippled with back pain, and was found to have three litres of fluid on her chest when admitted to hospital in January 2014.
Despite saying she repeatedly voiced her concerns that cancer could have been the cause, Mrs Rooms claims those concerns were too easily dismissed, and Hope was discharged home.
It was a month later, throughout which time Mrs Rooms says Hope suffered continued unbearable back pain, numbness in her legs and barely moved off the sofa at home, that she was finally sent to specialists in Leeds after returning to Hull Royal Infirmary at their GPs advice, and the tumour was found.
“In my opinion they did everything wrong, and that is why I am speaking about it and taking advice from experts in this kind of thing, as I just want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Mrs Rooms.
“Every day when she was in Hull Royal Infirmary I mentioned cancer to them. She had every symptom of childhood cancer in the book that a parent should be aware of. I was out of my mind with worry, but I was made to feel like I was a paranoid mother.
“Hope was discharged in the same state as she went in and we even had to get a wheelchair to take her out.”
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust told Mrs Rooms the working diagnosis had been an infection following her initial hospital admission, when the fluid on her chest was drained.
It said she was discharged as it was deemed suitable to treat her at home on oral antibiotics with a follow-up plan in place. The hospital said she was ‘clinically improving’ and that it would not be unusual for a child of her age to take some time to make a complete recovery.
However, Mrs Rooms, 50 believes more decisive action, and detailed scans, should have been made given the pain her daughter was in.
“When she was back home we called the hospital on numerous occasions as we were so worried, but we were told Hope’s body had gone through a lot of trauma and that the symptoms could last for weeks or months,” she added.
“I believe Hope should have been sent to specialists in Leeds earlier, because maybe they could have got to the bottom of it quicker. You don’t just discharge someone because you don’t know what’s wrong.
“If she had been treated earlier, maybe it could have been simpler. I’m no medical expert, but maybe it could. I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else. People need to be aware of the symptoms and what to look out for and be strong demanding the right examinations and treatment.”
Hope currently travels Leeds General Infirmary for maintenance chemotherapy three times a month, whilst she also has chemotherapy orally at home four times a week, with further tablets to prevent infection.
Lauren Dale, of Hudgell Solicitors, is representing the family, and said: “Mrs Rooms feels very strongly that more decisive action, and a more thorough investigation of what was causing Hope to be in so much pain when she first went into hospital, could have led to the tumour being found much earlier.
“We are looking into the circumstances around Hope’s treatment, whether realistic opportunities to have diagnosed the tumour earlier were missed, and if so, the impact earlier diagnosis could have had for Hope.”
Hope was first taken ill in December of 2013. She started suffering from back pains, leading to Mrs Rooms contacting their family doctor, who sent her to Hull Royal Infirmary for further tests on January 6, 2014.
During tests, Hope was found to have three litres of fluid on her chest, which was drained as an emergency, but despite still suffering from severe back pain and needing a wheelchair, she was discharged from hospital on January 12.
It was on February 13th that she was diagnosed with the cancer at Hull Royal Infirmary and was sent to see a specialist at Leeds General Infirmary.
Hope was recorded as being in remission in June 2014 after responding well to treatment.
In a statement to the Hull Daily Mail, Chris Long, Chief Executive at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I would like to personally apologise to both Hope and her family for the distress they have experienced.
“I can reassure them that a full investigation has taken place as a result of the concerns they have raised with us, and the subsequent learning has been shared with all relevant staff.”