A teenager’s deadly cancer went undiagnosed for five months – after one doctor suggested her weight loss was because she wanted ‘to be a stick insect like most teenage girls’.
Doctors put 18-year-old Georgia Marrison’s persistent vomiting and weight loss down to severe anaemia, one even suggesting it was because she wanted thin.
But after mum Joanne begged doctors for more tests, the teenager was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stomach cancer just two months later.
The diagnosis came on the same day Georgia was due to move into halls of residence at the University of Sheffield, where she was to study English Literature.
Now Joanne, of Moorgate, Rotherham, is calling for ‘justice for Georgia’ and hopes her story will alert other parents to the warning signs of cancer in teenagers.
She said: “I’m not here to say that they could have saved Georgia because it was so aggressive, but my main aim is that she was ignored so many times and it was all because she was a teenager and it has got to stop.
“We have our own Teenage Cancer Unit in Sheffield and that has got to mean that this is on the increase.
“If GPs are just going to ignore the warning signs because they are 18, 19 and 20 then it’s just wrong.”
The Thomas Rotherham College student began feeling run down and tired in May 2014 and her eye swelled up every morning.
She went to a walk-in centre where it was suggested she had dietary anaemia.
Joanne said: “The doctor said to her ‘Georgia you are looking very pale and I know what you 18-year-old girls are like for wanting to look like stick insects’. He didn’t even speak to her.”
Further tests found Georgia was suffering from severe anaemia and she was prescribed iron tablets.
Georgia, who worked part-time in the admin department at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, continued to vomit after eating and despite repeated visits to her GP her condition deteriorated.
She lost two stone and even collapsed on the stairs before one doctor’s appointment.
Joanne, who also has daughter Alex, 15, said: “At one point she came home and cried and said ‘why won’t nobody believe me?’.”
Joanne took Georgia to A&E at the Northern General Hospital in September 2014, where she was admitted and transferred to the Royal Hallamshire.
Doctors found she had cancer in her eye and ovaries and she also contracted meningitis – a rare side effect of cancer. She died in hospital on November 11.
Joanne said: “Georgia was amazing. She never caused me any trouble and had a wicked sense of humour.
“I used to hear parents always say that their children look up to them but I looked up to her. She was incredible.
“She loved her music festival and two weeks before she died the cancer unit arranged for her to meet Paolo Nutini at the Motorpoint Arena. He gave her a plectrum which she was buried with.”
Hundreds of people attended her funeral, where mourners wrote messages on her white cardboard coffin.
Joanne, who has Georgia’s ashes in two tattoos on her arm and in a ring, plans to fundraise in her memory for the Teenage Cancer Unit.
She said: “I get that the outcome for Georgia couldn’t have been any different but her suffering could have been less.
“The impression we got that for a long time after the walk-in centre when there was the suggestion of dietary anaemia, it looked to GPs that she was just a silly girl that wanted to be thin.
“A lot of anaemia with girls is pinpointed down to heavy periods but we have got to stop presuming that and think it could be something else.
“I want parents reading this and if their daughter or son is experiencing these symptoms to think yes, I need to go back to the doctors with my child.”