‘Trust your instincts': Mother warns parents after tiny changes in baby boy’s eyes turned out to be fatal cancer

Tests revealed that the 8-month-old had a rare cancerous tumor in one of his sinuses which spread to his brain and down his spinal cord

‘Trust your instincts': Mother warns parents after tiny changes in baby boy’s eyes turned out to be fatal cancer
Jessica Neal is glad she trusted her instincts and took Ted to the doctors (Jessica Neal/Facebook)
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NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM: A mother who lost her baby boy to cancer is now urging parents to "trust their instincts." Jessica, 35, and Lee Neal, 38, first noticed tiny changes in little Ted’s eyes and the swelling on his face while they were on holiday in Wales.

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The family was enjoying their time on the beach when they saw Ted’s swollen face, and initially assumed he had rubbed sand in his eyes. But the mother had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. When they saw the symptoms worsen, they rushed to the doctor, according to a report by North Wales lives.

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Subsequently, tests revealed that the 8-month-old had a rare cancerous tumor in one of his sinuses which spread to his brain and down his spinal cord. The tumor was so rare it didn't even have a name until January 2022.

Jessica Neal (Jessica Neal/Facebook)
Jessica Neal (Jessica Neal/Facebook)

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Ted died on April 9, 2022, at 16 months.

His mother Jessica, who is a product developer from Calverton, Nottingham, is glad she trusted her instincts and took his son to doctors, which gave her "eight more happy months with him." "I'm so glad I trusted my instincts as I think we would have lost him sooner if I hadn't," she explained.

“His eye hadn’t swelled that much when I took him in but I just had a feeling and within a week his face had completely changed and we had the diagnosis. Suddenly he was started on chemotherapy and our lives had changed,” she added.

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Speaking about when they first saw the signs in Wales, she said: "I couldn’t put my finger on what was different about it, it wasn’t inflamed or sore, but it was starting to look like it was protruding. Throughout the week it was gradually becoming more obvious and when I pointed it out to Lee and he could see it too. When we got home, we took him to the emergency department at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, really hoping that we were overreacting."

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Ted after six rounds of chemotherapy (Jessia Neal/Facebook)
Ted after six rounds of chemotherapy (Jessia Neal/Facebook)

"As parents, it's the worst thing you could find out, and the unknown type of sarcoma is incredibly rare and so is where it was in Ted's body, so finding out it's not going to be easy to treat is the worst thing. There's no known treatment plan and there's no known process,” she added.

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Jessica said he battled so hard and was brave through it all. The toddler went through six rounds of chemotherapy, which shrunk the tumor, and had an operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital to remove most of it in December 2021. The treatment helped him celebrate Christmas with his siblings Ben, 16, and Charlie, 14 at his home. But in the New Year, his parents spotted a lump on his forehead as he was going in for chemotherapy.

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After conducting more tests, the officials discovered that his brain was pushing forward due to a gap in his skull which had been removed during earlier surgery. Despite being declared cancer-free, Ted's health was deteriorating rapidly and doctors couldn't understand why.

Jessica Neal/Facebook
Jessica Neal/Facebook

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The news was so sudden and shocking to Jessica and Lee and she described how there is "nothing that can prepare you for that."

To honor the memory of their son, the parents set up a charity to help the family with a seriously ill child. “I have so many happy memories from the last eight months Ted was with us - even though it was tough. I would urge anyone to trust their instincts if they think something is wrong. Even if it just gives you peace of mind,” she said.

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