A 10-year-old boy was diagnosed with a brain tumour after his mother blamed his headaches on playing his PlayStation.
Lucca Larkin developed headaches in August, which his mother Shellie, 40, initially put down to an issue with his glasses.
After a trip to the optometrist came back clear, Mrs Larkin and her husband Simon, 46, banned Lucca from gaming, thinking that may be behind his symptoms.
With the pain still lingering, a GP diagnosed Lucca with blocked sinuses and recommended he take Calpol.
Sensing something was seriously wrong, Mrs Larkin took her son to A&E on August 30. A scan later revealed he had a medulloblastoma brain tumour.
Lucca, from Radcliffe in Greater Manchester, had surgery to remove part of the tumour on September 3.
He is on a waiting list for chemo and radiotherapy to treat the rest of the mass, which was too dangerous to take out.
Lucca Larkin was diagnosed with brain cancer just three weeks after his tenth birthday. He is pictured left recovering from surgery to remove the tumour at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on September 3. His mother Shellie blamed his PlayStation for his headaches. They are pictured together right before Lucca had a lumbar puncture to see if his cancer has spread
Pictured after surgery, only part of Lucca’s brain tumour could be removed. He is on a waiting list for chemo and radiotherapy to treat the remaining malignant mass
Despite Lucca seeing an optometrist and having his PlayStation taken away, the youngster was still battling intermittent headaches over the August bank holiday weekend.
His mother, who works part-time as a social media manager for a cycle wear company, took him to the GP.
The doctor dismissed his symptoms as nothing serious, and recommended he take anti-allergy tablets and Calpol.
When these failed to help, Mrs Larkin took Lucca to Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Later that day, the youngster was referred to North Manchester Hospital’s children unit. A consultant booked Lucca in for a scan and he was monitored overnight.
After a sleepless night in lots of pain, a nurse pushed forward an appointment with a second consultant early the next morning, who arranged an immediate CT scan.
A few hours later, the results showed Lucca had a brain tumour. He was diagnosed on August 31, just three weeks after his tenth birthday.
‘It’s hard to describe the feeling you have when you hear the news that what you thought were sinus headaches or migraines is actually something much more sinister,’ Mrs Larkin said.
‘People use the term heartbroken but upon hearing the news I felt like my heart had broken into pieces. It was like a physical pain deep inside.
‘I felt scared, terrified in fact. Later I felt an intense anger that this horrible disease even exists.
‘As a parent it’s the worst feeling, you feel like you’ve died inside. I knew there was nothing I was going to be able to do at that point to help him.’
Pictured left with his sister Antonio, Lucca relied on a wheelchair to get about after the surgery. The youngster was diagnosed just two days after his father Simon (pictured together right) quit his job to start his own business. This has left the family unstable financially
The operation has left Lucca was a prominent scar (pictured) down the back of his head
WHAT IS MEDULLOBLASTOMA?
Medulloblastoma is a fast-growing, high-grade tumor.
It accounts for two percent of all primary brain tumors and 18 percent of all malignant pediatric brain tumors, making it the most common brain tumour in children.
Approximately 70 percent of all cases occur in children under age 10.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Appetite changes
- Behavioral changes
- Increased pressure on the brain symptoms of headaches, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness, as well as problems with coordination
- Unusual eye movements
- Feeling extremely tired
Treatment consists of surgical removal of the tumor followed by radiation, and then chemotherapy.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the five-year survival rate, or what per cent of children live at least five years after the cancer is found are:
- Average-risk disease: 70 – 80 per cent.
- High-risk disease: 60 – 65 per cent.
- Infants with localized disease: 30 – 50 per cent.
Once diagnosed, Lucca had an operation to remove the tumour at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
He is on the waiting list for further treatment at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.
The family are also awaiting the results of a lumbar puncture, which will assess whether his tumour spread to his spine. A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, analyses the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
Lucca has also been put forward for proton beam therapy, a type of radiotherapy, in Germany.
The family could be required to stay there for more than six weeks.
Despite all he has endured, the youngster has managed to stay positive.
‘He’s doing brilliantly,’ Mrs Larkin said. ‘He’s still very upbeat.
‘We have five children and we always thought Lucca was the softest but he was so strong during all of this.
‘He hasn’t complained once or moaned about his situation.’
Lucca was diagnosed just two days after his father quit his job working in operations and planning for a utility company to start his own business.
His son’s poor health means the new business will not go ahead, with Mr Larkin being on call to take Lucca to Germany when required.
The couple have started a GoFundMe page to help them financially.
Mrs Larkin is also speaking out to encourage other parents to trust their instincts.
‘If you know something isn’t quite right, you have to follow it through,’ she said.
‘If I’d just left it and thought, “right okay, it is just a sinus infection, we’ll go to the doctors’ next week”, we might not be in the same situation as we are now.
‘Something was telling me deep in my gut something wasn’t right, that there was something other than what they’d already said and that we had to push for it.’
Donate to the family’s fundraising efforts here.
Lucca is pictured left with his sister and brother Roman before the ordeal. As well as blaming the PlayStation, his mother thought it may be an issue with his glasses, while a GP dismissed the headaches as blocked sinuses. An anxious Lucca is pictured right awaiting surgery