Devastated mum forced to resort to Google to diagnose daughter’s rare cancer


After doctors insisted she hadconstipation or appendicitis, it was Google who first indicated to a 34-year-old mum that her two-year-old daughter could be suffering from a rare liver cancer

Grace Millward before her treatment
Grace Millward before her treatment

A devastated mum was forced to used Google to diagnose her two-year-old daughter’s rare liver cancer after doctors said she was just constipated.

Louise Millward, 34, of Inkberrow, Worcs., took her daughter Grace to the GP in May last year and was referred to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, after the toddler lost her appetite and was more tired than normal.

Doctors suspected she had constipation or appendicitis and she was sent home after being treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

However, over the following five months, Louise noticed Grace was losing her balance and vomiting. “She was really poorly for all that time,” said mum Louise, “we thought it may be a virus or something.”

Grace before she had her diagnosis of liver cancer
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Image:

Louise Millward / SWNS)

Grace receiving treatment at Birmingham Children’s Waterfall House
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Image:

Louise Millward / SWNS)

In October last year, Louise took Grace back to hospital after she noticed her stomach was swollen. They were referred to Worcestershire Royal Hospital pending an investigation.

“I Googled Grace’s symptoms and it suggested it was probably cancer,” Louise said.

On November 2 last year, the two-year-old was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare cancer which affects just one in one million children, after further tests revealed her liver was inflamed.

Louise said she and her partner Don, 34, were “devastated but not surprised”.

She added: “Her right lung had collapsed; she had a bleed in her liver and her haemoglobin levels had dropped right down.

“One night while I was giving her a bath I noticed she had a vein mapping across her stomach, I had never seen this before.

“The doctors had told me that her liver was extremely enlarged and that was what I could see protruding out of her chest.

“The vein mapping was the pressure of her tumour on the arteries.”

Louise said “because what she has in children is so rare, to some degree I am angry it was missed”.

She continued: “The size of the tumour when she was diagnosed was 14cm in length. For a 23-month-old child to have a 14cm length in her liver is huge – that is why it was protruding out of her stomach.

“Had it been picked up properly in May, then maybe it wouldn’t have been as big and could have been resolved on a slightly different avenue.

Grace spending Christmas at home after having a break from treatment
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Image:

Louise Millward / SWNS)

“The doctors reassured us that it was constipation and we just thought that it was all sorted.”

Grace is now undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a bid to shrink the tumour.

She continued: “At the end of December, we had a 13 per cent reduction in tumour size. The surgeons will now decide what happens next.

“As for the future, we don’t know, but the chemotherapy is shrinking the tumour.

“Grace’s cure is having it removed by a resection or transplant. The surgeons have told us she can survive with a third of her liver.”

The family set up a GoFundme Page and have received £5,815 in donations from well-wishers. They plan to use the donations to give Grace a bedroom makeover, a trip to the zoo and a family holiday.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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