A pretty 18-year-old died after doctors misdiagnosed her cancer and suggested her weight loss was because she wanted “to be a stick insect like most teenage girls”.
Tragic Georgia Marrison started suffering from tiredness and persistent vomiting when she was studying for her A-level exams.
The college student went to a walk-in centre with her mum but her weight loss was put down to severe anaemia – with one doctor even suggesting it was because she wanted thin.
Georgia’s cancer was missed for five months before she was finally diagnosed with an aggressive form of stomach cancer just two months before she died.
Mum Joanne, 51, begged doctor’s to pay attention to her daughter’s symptoms before the family were dealt the devastating diagnosis on the day Georgia was due to move in to university halls.
Joanne is now calling for parents and medics to pay attention to the signs of teenage cancer and feels helping others will be justice for Georgia.
She said: “The journey we went on with her cancer was like going back to the medieval days. I felt abandoned by doctors and had nowhere to turn.
“Her illness started with a cold last May when she was taking her A-levels. She said ‘mum, I feel tired all the time.’
“We went together to the walk-in centre and that was the start of it all. The doctor said to her ‘Georgia you are looking very pale and I know what you 18-year-old girls are like for wanting to look like stick insects’.
“I was really taken aback because he hadn’t even spoken to her. I was quite shocked because he had prejudged her. He diagnosed her with dietary anaemia.
“After that we went to the GP and every time we went back it was ‘yes, she has severe anaemia.’
“She kept throwing up and couldn’t keep anything down. One day she said ‘mum, what can I eat that will taste nice on the way back up?’
“Georgia loved her food. I know my children and it couldn’t have been further from the truth that she was trying to be a stick insect. She loved her food but was never overweight. She was healthy.”
Georgia, who was a student at Thomas Rotherham College, South Yorks., began feeling run down and tired in May 2014 and her eye swelled up every morning.
After her visit to the walk-in centre, further tests found Georgia was suffering from severe anaemia and she was prescribed iron tablets.
The teenager, who worked part-time in the admin department at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, continued to vomit after eating and despite repeated visits to her GP her condition deteriorated.
She lost two stone and even collapsed on the stairs before one doctor’s appointment.
Joanne, who also has daughter Alex, 15, said: “At one point she came home and cried and said why won’t nobody believe me?‘.”
Joanne took Georgia to A&E at the Northern General Hospital in September 2014, where she was admitted and transferred to the Royal Hallamshire.
Doctors found she had cancer in her eye and ovaries and she also contracted meningitis – a rare side effect of cancer.
Joanne said: “We went to the doctors in June and we kept getting nowhere with GPs after that. She was wasting away before my eyes and I took her to A&E in the September and I said I wasn’t leaving until somebody helps me.”
Georgia was diagnosed on September 21 and sadly lost her battle with cancer on November 11.
Joanne said: “I’m not here to say that they could have saved Georgia because it was so aggressive, but my main aim is that she was ignored so many times and it was all because she was a teenager and it has got to stop.
“We have our own Teenage Cancer Unit in Sheffield and that has got to mean that this is on the increase.
“If GPs are just going to ignore the warning signs because they are 13, 19 and 20 then it’s just wrong.”
Georgia’s diagnosis came on the same day she was due to move into halls of residence at the University of Sheffield, where she was to study English Literature.
Single Joanne, an admissions clerk, said: “Georgia was amazing. She nevercaused me any trouble and had a wicked sense of humour.
“I used to hear parents always say that their children look up to them but I looked up to her. She was incredible.
“She loved her music festival and two weeks before she died the cancer unit arranged for her to meet Paolo Nutini at the Motorpoint Arena. He gave her a plectrum which she was buried with.”
Hundreds of people attended her funeral, where mourners wrote messages on her white cardboard coffin.
Joanne plans to fundraise in her memory for the Teenage Cancer Unit.
She said: “It was a horrendous time for her. My hope now is that she didn’t die in vain.
“I get that the outcome for Georgia couldn’t have been any different but her suffering could have been less.
“The impression we got that for a long time after the walk-in centre when there was the suggestion of dietary anaemia, it looked to GPs that she was just a silly girl that wanted to be thin.
“A lot of anaemia with girls is pinpointed down to heavy periods but we have got to stop presuming that and think it could be something else.
“I want parents reading this to think if their daughter or son is experiencing these symptoms then stop think ‘yes, I need to go back to the doctors’ with my child.”