A mum saved her baby’s life by noticing her bruises were signs of blood cancer – after she read about a teenager who died from the disease and Googled the symptoms.
Laura Handley, 30, originally thought little Tazmin’s marks were nothing more than a sign of clumsiness.
She was also getting night sweats and having muscle and joint pain – but her parents dismissed them at first as usual childhood “gripes and groans.”
It wasn’t until Laura read a story about tragic schoolboy James O’Mara – who died a week after being diagnosed with blood cancer – that she researched the symptoms online.
When she learnt that they could be a sign of cancer, she took the tot to the GP for a check up on July 6 last year – where a bone marrow biopsy revealed she had myelodysplasia (pre-leukaemia).
Just 13 days later, the mum-of-five’s worst fears were confirmed when a second biopsy revealed that she had 67 blasts of leukaemia and a white blood cell count of 24.
It transpired that red marks on her skin, which had been dismissed by her parents as a rash, were actually petechia – a sign of broken capillary blood vessels.
Tazmin was immediately rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a first round of chemotherapy and Laura described the “heartbreak” of having to cut off her hair.
Between then and the end of November she spent all but three weeks on the ward, undergoing another round of chemo and a bone marrow transplant.
But just before Christmas Laura and partner Chris Carpenter, 34, were given the happy news that the youngster, now two-years-old, is in remission.
The full-time mum, of Tenbury Wells, Worcs., said: “This whole episode has been so traumatic for the whole family – its been a rollercoaster of emotions.
“I had noticed that Tazmin had a few little bruises and a red mark on her leg, but everyone I spoke to told me not to worry about it.
“Although I was originally concerned, I thought that it was just the result of her being clumsy while out playing.
“When you have five young children, you learn that they get little bumps and grazes all the time, and it’s fairly normal.
“Tazmin was seemingly no different to any other kid.
“But I happened to read a story about James O’Mara, and that started to get me really concerned.
“That night, I tried to convince myself that everything was ok, but deep down I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
“I Googled the symptoms and Tazmin had two symptoms – easy bruising and petechiae, which are little pin prick red dots all over her.
“The next morning I took her to the GP, and from there everything started to unravel.
“The original white blood cell count was 16, and she had 15 blasts of leukaemia, and was diagnosed with myelodysplasia.
“But by July 19, it the white blood cell count had risen to 24, and she had 67 blasts. By then we knew it was full-blown leukaemia, and were absolutely terrified.
“She started her first round of chemotherapy that afternoon, and from there she was almost constantly in the hospital.
“It was heartbreaking. Her hair started to fall out in clumps, and we had no choice but to get the clippers out and cut it off.
“I can still vividly remember her crying and screaming as we did it, it was every mother’s worst nightmare.
“Every just happened so fast, it was so hard to take it in.
“From then till the end of November, she only spent three weeks or so back at home, the rest of it was in the hospital.
“What’s amazing is that, through two rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, our little princess kept smiling and being positive.
“That was what got Christopher and I through it, her positivity.
“She just got on with it. I think she did realise the severity of it, and did have little lows, but she kept on smiling.
“Having a condition like hers can make you infertile, so we decided to have one of her ovaries removed, to give her the choice once she’s a bit older.
“When we found out she was in remission, it was just the best news.
“Since then she’s been in and out of hospital a few times, but she’s recovering amazingly well.
“If it wasn’t for me stumbling across that article, then we would never have gone to the doctors, and who knows whether or not she would have pulled through.”
Laura and Christopher, who quit his job as a carpenter shortly after diagnosis, are now planning to send the youngster to nursery in September.
The pair set up a Facebook page on Tazmin’s journey, called Tazmin’s fight against AML, in a bid to raise awareness to the symptoms.
*Tragic 13-year-old James O’Mara first fell ill and had bruises and red marks on his skin on May 29 last year but died days later on June 8.
His family, from Claines, Worcs., thought it was nothing more than a sickness bug.
But they were left devastated when tests revealed he was battling acute myeloid leukaemia.
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