Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Mother of Stephen backs cancer awareness drive
A mother whose son died from bone cancer says early diagnosis by GPs and other medics is the key to saving lives as she backs a national awareness-raising week.
Susan Ferrey said in her heart-of-hearts she believes Stephen may still be alive had he not initially been mis-diagnosed as having a pulled, then torn, muscle.
It was only after a second opinion was sought that Stephen, who died aged 20 in 2001, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He was initially referred for three weeks of physiotherapy when he complained of knee pain.
Later, when the pain became extreme, he went back to his doctors and was finally sent for an X-ray and the cancer diagnosed when he was 17.
Mrs Ferrey, of Thackley, thinks the two-month diagnosis delay allowed the cancer to spread to his spine and lungs, eventually killing him.
She said: “I think the key is early diagnosis. When a young lad presents with knee pain, they seem to put it down to children running or jumping – they’re letting things go on too long. I think GPs and medical professions in general, such as physiotherapists, need to be more aware.
“It’s so frustrating because I wish we’d gone back and wished we’d pushed from the beginning.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be bone cancer. I think in my heart-of-hearts maybe Stephen would still be here if we’d pushed that bit harder. You blame yourselves because you’re there to protect your child and he’s not here now.”
Around 550 people in the UK and Ireland are diagnosed each year with primary bone cancer, which although rare, is a very aggressive form of cancer which often leaves survivors with life-changing disabilities.
During the awareness week, from October 5 to 12, the Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) is using its national network of experts and supporters to highlight the illness.
It is calling for earlier diagnosis by GPs after a new report revealed primary bone cancer survival rates have not improved in 25 years.
Mrs Ferrey, 57, said it was difficult to talk about her son.
“But if it could save somebody else going through what we went through, and particularly what Stephen went through, it would be wonderful.”
The BCRT has teamed up with the Royal College of GPs to launch a specialist e-learning module this winter to help doctors spot the symptoms and diagnose patients earlier.
Chairman of BCRT’s Independent Scientific Advisory Panel, Professor Andy Hall, said primary bone cancer symptoms can include painful bones or swollen joints, which GPs can easily mis-diagnose as a sporting injury or ‘growing pains’.”