I was told my baby was only constipated for a year but now she is fighting for her life

The mother of a five-year-old girl fighting for her life with cancer claims doctors repeatedly misdiagnosed her with constipation.

Dulcie O’Kelly complained about stomachache when her parents took her to the doctor last January.

Dulcie O'Kelly and her mother, Debbie


Dulcie O’Kelly and her mother, DebbieCredit: Caters
Dulcie's family says she hasn't been checked out for almost a year despite swelling in her abdomen


Dulcie’s family says she hasn’t been checked out for almost a year despite the swelling in her abdomenCredit: Caters

The family from Telford, Shropshire, said they were told their daughter’s stomach swelling was caused by constipation.

Despite the persistent swelling, they say Dulcie was never taken for a CT scan, which could show a growing tumor.

Mother Debbie, 39, is trying to find more answers, believing her young daughter has a food intolerance.

Finally in November 2021, Dulcie got a scan showing cancer Waist measurement is 17cm x 12cm.

Sadly, a biopsy the following month revealed she had neuroblastoma – a cancer that affects the surrounding 100 children a year in the UK, according to the NHS.

Neuroblastoma It most commonly occurs in one of the adrenal glands located above the kidneys, or in the nerve tissue that runs along the spinal cord in the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis.

Dulcie’s monstrous cancer has spread to her pelvis, bone marrow, legs and spine.

The mother of one child, Debbie, said: “The diagnosis was a shock.

“Our entire world has collapsed around us and never in a million years have we suspected it was cancer.

“We had never heard of neuroblastoma.

“When we received the diagnosis, I cried because I couldn’t believe it, how could my daughter have cancer?

“We went through every possible emotion, thinking why wasn’t it discovered sooner.”

Nearly half of all neuroblastomas are the type that can come back despite aggressive treatment.

With only 67% of patients in the UK surviving for 5 years or more, neuroblastoma has the lowest survival rate of all childhood cancers.

Dulcie’s parents say doctors have not yet told them Dulcie’s chances of survival.

The young girl is currently undergoing her fifth round of intense chemotherapy to save her life.

Doctors are considering surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible after Dulcie completes seven rounds of chemotherapy.

“The doctors told us the cancer was treatable,” Debbie said.

“Neuroblastoma is the second deadliest cancer in children.

“We need to stop the tumor in her stomach from growing and spreading throughout her body.”

Look for the signs

Debbie wants other parents to be aware of the signs of cancer because “if we had known earlier what Dulcie was suffering from, it might not have spread so vigorously through her body,” she said.

She said: ‘We had absolutely no idea that her symptoms could be life-threatening and all we can do now is pray the doctors still catch it in time.

“Symptoms I want to let other parents know include a bloated belly, constipation.

“It can cause a child to walk quite unsteadily and have weak legs.

“Loss of energy, weight loss and loss of appetite are all signs.

“I want to raise awareness as much as possible about this terrible disease because it is so easy to mistake it for something else.

“You don’t think it’s going to happen to your child, this is a rare cancer but GPs and parents need to recognize the symptoms and if you have any concerns, promote evaluation. more experience.”

The family has also offered a sum of £200,000 fundraising call to pay for life-saving treatment in the US, in case her treatment in the UK doesn’t work.

“The treatment plan for Dulcie in the UK is 12 to 18 months, which is a long way to recovery and it can take two years for the disease to go into remission,” explains Debbie.

“There is a possibility that she will never recover from cancer because of the type of cancer it is.

“We have started fundraising for this possibility now, because we need to know that we have enough funding for the treatment in the US.

“While we hope going to the US won’t be necessary, we must be prepared to do everything we can for our young daughter.

“If in 18 months we don’t claim this life-saving trip then any money raised will go to another family in need or donate to a number of cancer charities. in children.”

For now, the family is trying their best every day and focusing on Dulcie’s chemotherapy.

Debbie said: “Dulcie is a superstar, she smiles through it even when she’s tired and she’s back.

“She is very big for her age, she knows she has cancer but she asks questions that I cannot answer, she wants to know why she has cancer.

“It breaks my heart to see her go through this.

“I have good days and bad days, but her strength gives me strength and most days she copes very well.”

To donate, visit GoFundMe.

To follow Dulcie’s journey with cancer, check out her Instagram page @dulcies_neuroblastoma_journey.

Dulcie is currently on her fifth round of intense chemotherapy in an attempt to save her life


Dulcie is currently on her fifth round of intense chemotherapy in an attempt to save her lifeCredit: Caters
Dulcie on a visit to the princess


Dulcie on a visit to the princessCredit: Caters
Dulcie's parents say doctors didn't tell them Dulcie would survive


Dulcie’s parents say doctors didn’t tell them Dulcie would surviveCredit: Caters

Symptoms to watch for


The NHS says the symptoms of neuroblastoma vary depending on where the cancer is and whether it has spread.

Early symptoms can be vague and difficult to detect and can be easily confused with common childhood symptoms.

Symptoms may include:

  • Swollen, painful abdomen, sometimes constipation and difficulty urinating
  • difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • a lump in the neck
  • bluish bumps on the skin and bruising, especially around the eyes
  • leg weakness and unsteadiness, numbness in the lower body, constipation and difficulty urinating
  • fatigue, loss of strength, pale skin, loss of appetite and weight loss
  • bone pain, limping, and irritability
  • rarely eye twitches and muscle movements

Childhood cancer

See your GP if your child has unusual signs or symptoms that don’t go away, such as:

  • an unusual lump or swelling
  • unexplained paleness and loss of energy
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • constant pain in one area of ​​the body
  • Limp
  • unexplained fever or unresolved illness
  • frequent headaches, often accompanied by vomiting
  • sudden eye or vision changes
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss I was told my baby was only constipated for a year but now she is fighting for her life

Emma Bowman

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