A heartbroken mum has told of the devastating moment her six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a massive tumour doctors described as a "ticking time bomb".
The cancerous mass inside Evie-Mai Griffiths’ body could have been lying dormant from birth as it grew in size, her mum Rebecca says.
It was initially believed the youngster was constipated after she woke up screaming with a stomach ache.
But scans of Evie’s abdomen soon revealed that she had a Wilms tumour that was twice the size of a watermelon and had ruptured, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Mum-of-four Rebecca said her eldest daughter, then five, "had never been ill", and the night she woke up in pain her symptoms appeared to calm down after being given Calpol.
Evie seemed OK the following day despite being "slightly tired".
But after complaining again of stomach pain she was taken to a walk-in-centre where it was said she was constipated.
Rebecca said: "A parent with a young child knows their toilet habits and I knew she wasn’t constipated.
"I don’t know what it was but there was just something telling me not to take her home and that something was wrong."
After refusing to take her daughter home, Rebecca was told to go to Whiston Hospital in Prescot if she wanted further tests.
She said: "At this point, Evie had started to lean over to one side, it was as if she had too much weight on her right hand side.
"She had an x-ray of her abdomen and they said it could be a twisted bowel or her appendix and she had an ultrasound.
"It never crossed my mind that it could be anything serious.
"But when he started doing the ultrasound, he went quiet as he went over her right side.
"I was told to wait in the waiting room and I remember seeing the doctor and he walked past with his head down and, now I look back, it was because he knew what we were going to be told."
The tumour was twice the size of a watermelon and Evie was admitted to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool where she began four weeks of intense chemotherapy.
Rebecca – also mum to children Leo, four; Issac, three; and Scarlett, one – said: "I remember just saying ‘No, no’ when they told me.
"I went into the corridor and just fell to the floor.
"This thing had been growing inside her and getting bigger and I hadn’t noticed.
"Doctors told me it was like a ticking time bomb that could have been lying dormant from birth and, with a Wilms tumour, they can never tell how long someone has actually had it."
Due to the intense chemotherapy, Evie began to lose her hair, which Rebecca said was very hard to explain to the youngster.
The mum also had to wait while her daughter underwent a five-hour operation to remove the tumour, which doctors found had ruptured – explaining the night she had woken up screaming.
Rebecca said: "I blamed myself because I had missed it.
"But she had hardly any symptoms.
"When I look back, she was more tired than usual but she had just started reception and I didn’t think anything of a 10-minute sleep in the car on the way home.
"The whole situation caught me completely off guard – but Evie has taken it all on the chin.
"Don’t get me wrong, it has knocked her for six and she has gone quite shy and looks to me quite a lot for reassurance.
“But she has just fit right back in at school like nothing has happened."
Evie finished her last round of chemotherapy on Tuesday.
When diagnosed, the family had to cancel a holiday to Sweden to see Evie’s favourite uncle but now, thanks to charity Make A Wish, she will be soon be flying out to see him.
Rebecca said: "The night I had to explain to her about her hair falling out, I applied for Make A Wish because I thought, if anyone deserves it, she does.
"It will be a time for Evie and I to have a breather away from reality.
"My mum is going to look after the other children while we go to Sweden.
"Evie can’t believe her wish is being granted and I can’t believe I’m getting my daughter back."
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