THE case of a young cancer sufferer has sparked a charity to warn parents over possible diagnosis delays.
The Teenage Cancer Trust spoke out after the Echo revealed how Hetton School student Sophie Huntingdon, 14, is receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (All) after she was first told the aches in her knees were growing pains.
Three months later, the pain became so great she could not walk and was referred to hospital.
Sophie, of South Hetton, is undergoing chemotherapy at the Royal Victoria (RVI) in Newcastle.
Teenage Cancer Trust raises awareness of All – the most common form of leukaemia in children – and helps youngsters from the region through its Newcastle unit.
It says one in four young people diagnosed with cancer in the UK go to their GPs four times or more, before their symptoms are recognised.
Chief executive Simon Davies said: “Our hearts go out to Sophie and her family at this really difficult time.
“Unfortunately, Teenage Cancer Trust knows that Sophie’s story isn’t unique as we hear similar stories from young people across the UK.
“Cancer symptoms are dismissed as growing pains, sports injuries or simply put down to just being a teenager. This is not good enough.
“Significant delays to diagnosis can impact outcome and also adds a huge amount of stress to an already stressful experience.
“Delays leave them feeling isolated and angry and they worry that waiting for treatment will mean it is less successful.”
Sophie, mum Denise, 44 – who works for Nissan – and brother Daniel, 20, are being supported by fellow villagers, who took part in a three-day 172-mile bike ride from Hull back to South Hetton at the weekend.
Colin Noble, one of the organisers of the ride, thanked everyone who took part, including Barry Irvine, who helped map out the route.
The riders were joined by two others who drove a support van and were welcomed home on Sunday evening, with a party and buffet.
About £500 was raised on the night, which was attended by Sophie and her mum, through raffles and an auction.
Sponsorship cash from the bike ride is still being collected, with donations accepted at the cricket club – where the 16 who took part are members – or by calling Colin Noble on 07540 705 563.