'Our little girl's “growing pains” were actually cancer': Parents' anguish as daughter, 9, nearly loses leg to deadly bone tumour
Hannah had a 22cm tumour growing in her left leg, causing her a huge amount of painNine-year-old underwent four weeks of chemotherapyBrave youngster has donated her cancerous femur to science
13:54 GMT, 15 October 2012
A couple have revealed how their nine year old girl nearly lost her leg to bone cancer after doctors initially thought she had simply pulled a muscle.
Hannah Baker was left in agony as a 22cm tumour grew on her left leg, but was told it was probably a sports injury after visiting her GP. Her concerned parents, Paul, 36, and Shim, 36, assumed she was suffering from common growing pains.
However, two weeks later when the pain got worse, they rushed her back to her doctor who recommended an x-ray of the youngster's leg, which revealed the huge tumour on her femur.
Hannah Baker, pictured following cancer treatment. Doctors managed to save her leg and she is now on the road to recovery
Mother Shim believes had the tumour not been caught early in April this year, it could have proved fatal.
She said: 'Hannah had been doing lots of sports and complained that her leg was aching.
'She didn't compete in the school cross country and I noticed as she walked back from watching it she was moving strangely.
'I picked her up to put her in my lap and she screamed.
'The doctor and us thought she had just pulled a muscle and we went away with painkillers.
'It was just luck we found it and acted so quickly but we never thought for a moment it could be cancer.
'We went back two weeks later and the GP suggested we go for an X-ray to be on the safe side.
Three hours later Hannah and I were told they had found a tumour. In two weeks we had gone from having a healthy little girl to her having cancer.
'We were left numb and speechless. We thought we're going to wake up in a minute from all this but we just had to stay strong and be there for each other.'
Hannah was treated at Birmingham Children's Hospital
Hannah's older sister Emily, 11, and the family from Clee St Margaret, Shropshire, were distraught as they awaited to find out how badly the osteosarcoma tumour had grown.
After a nervous four weeks of chemotherapy Hannah's treatment was successful but she faced losing the leg altogether.
BE SYMPTOM AWARE – POSSIBLE SIGNS OF BONE CANCER
The following are symptoms of Primary Bone Cancer…
Bone pain; this has been described as toothache-like pain; it may
come and go at first then become more persistent, especially at nightA swelling; this can be seen if a tumour is on a bone near the
surface of the body but in other places, like on the pelvis, it may not
be visibleReduced movement of a joint, or a limpAlthough the condition is rare, the Bone Cancer Research Trust recommends requesting an X-ray if symptoms persist.
The primary school pupil loved hockey, netball and running but was told for the leg to recover she would have to give up high impact sports.
Surgeons at the Royal Orthopedic Hospital, Birmingham, operated to insert a titanium endoprosthesis on the femur, a metal rod which will grow as she gets older.
Now after six months intensive surgery, further chemotherapy and lengthy hospital stays Hannah says she is looking forward to getting better and starting to swim.
Around 450 cases of bone cancer are diagnosed among children and young people aged 10 to 24 each year. Around 100 of these will be fatal.
Father Paul was overjoyed Hannah has reacted so well to her treatment.
He said: 'I thought when she first mentioned it that she just had growing pains. But it was likely she was born with the cancer and it lay dormant and with her growth spurts as she got older as a child triggered the bone cancer.
'The tumour was 100 per cent removed and
100 per cent dead but the chemotherapy will continue until Christmas
when hopefully she will be given the all clear.
Hannah has donated her cancerous femur to science
'Her school has been amazing. The teachers kept her desk clear and read out her name in the register, waiting for the day she returns.
'She has managed one visit, but we can never make plans as her immune system is so low. She could be fine in the morning but off to hospital in the afternoon.
'She managed to spend her ninth birthday on July 10 at home, and smuggled sweets into hospital to sell to other youngsters on the ward.'
Hannah is on a five-week repetitive programme of chemotherapy, blood transfusions and then two weeks in Birmingham Children's Hospital for more high dose chemotherapy.
Her bravery and confidence has shone through with hospital staff who ask her to talk to teenage children newly-admitted with cancer.
Hannah said: 'I've missed school since and I'm looking forward to getting back.
'I tell people the massive scar on my leg is the result of a shark attack and that I beat the shark away!'
This week is Bone Cancer Awareness Week and Hannah revealed she donated her cancerous femur to science, in the hope other children benefit from research on it. Her recovery is also months ahead of schedule.
Paul said: 'Doctors wanted her to be up and walking after the rod operation inside ten days but she was up and walking in half that time.
'She even visited school four weeks after the surgery. She's a very determined young lady.'