Cheshire mum says she ‘knew something was wrong’ before little boy’s devastating cancer diagnosis

A Cheshire mum said she ‘knew something was wrong’ before her son was given a cancer diagnosis.

Two months ago, Emma Rigby and Dan Eastwood rushed their son, James Eastwood, to Leighton Hospital in Crewe after he became very sick and had a temperature.

Emma, 25, from Northwhich, said she knew straight away that ‘something wasn’t right’ with her 18-month old, as James was very rarely sick.

Read more of the top stories from across Cheshire here.

James was given antibiotics by staff at Leighton Hospital, in a bid to keep his vitals steady, the Liverpool ECHO reports.

But after three hours they transferred the youngster to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool as an emergency case.

Under the care of Alder Hey, James was given an ultrasound which led to him being diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour – a type of kidney cancer.

About 70 children in the UK develop a Wilms’ tumour each year, and it most often affects children under the age of five.

NHS Inform website states: “A Wilms’ tumour is thought to come from very specialised cells in the embryo known as metanephric blastema.

“These cells are involved in the development of the child’s kidneys while they are in the womb.

“The cells usually disappear at birth, but in many children with Wilms’ tumour, clusters of primitive kidneys cells, called nephrogenic rests can still be found.”

image of James and his Dad, Dan Eastwood, in Alder Hey Children's Hospital
James and his Dad, Dan Eastwood, in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

The reason for James becoming so ill was due to the tumour rupturing, his mum said: “He was just out of it for around four days.”

The doctors had to perform two blood transfusions whilst James was in the High Dependency Unit, and then put the 18-month-old on a chemotherapy course for six weeks.

Emma said: “As soon as the chemo started, it was like all his energy came back right away.”

After five weeks of chemotherapy, specialists were shocked to discover that the tumour had shrunk by half its size.

James was able to leave hospital during his time of chemotherapy and spent it at home with his mum and dad, 28.

The Northwich family were relieved at how quick James was making his recovery, speaking to the ECHO his mum Emma said: “It has been hard, but we are both Christians, and it has meant the world to us to know that everyone was praying for James to get better.

“James is the happiest little boy, and he has been so positive through this whole thing.

“Even when we have been upset, he has been there with a smile on his face.”

She added: “The staff [ at Alder Hey ] were amazing, the knowledge of our oncologist, Lisa, kept us going.

“His surgeon, Mr Jones, acted like this was nothing [the surgery], I suppose it is just a regular day for them, it’s crazy, they really couldn’t have been better.”

James’ surgery took place on October 28, they removed his kidney to get rid of the tumour.

image of 18 month old James Eastwood smiling as he leaves Alder Hey Hospital
James Eastwood smiling as he leaves hospital after surgery

James left hospital on November 3 and has since had another dose of chemotherapy.

He will need to stick to chemo for at least another six months, just to ensure it has removed all traces of the tumour from his body.

NHS Inform website tells us how to look out for the symptoms of Wilms’ tumour: “The most common symptom is a swollen abdomen, which is usually painless.

“Sometimes a parent or carer may feel a lump in the abdomen which can be quite large.

“Occasionally, the tumour may bleed slightly and this can irritate the kidney and may be painful.

“There may be blood in your child’s urine, or their blood pressure may be raised. The child may also have a high temperature (fever), upset stomach, weight loss or a lack of appetite.”

Cheshire Live – Cheshire