Awareness can save teens’ lives

Callum Flynn recovered from bone cancer
Callum Flynn recovered from bone cancer

HEALTH chiefs are urging youngsters to be aware of the first signs of cancer.

Saving Life and Limb, a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of bone cancer, is targeting youngsters in Wigan.

As part of the week, which starts today, health bosses are pointing out that although the disease is rare among young people, it still affects around six 10 to 19-year-olds in the borough each year.

A new report by Bone Cancer Research Trust shows less than half (41 per cent) of primary bone cancer patients were diagnosed via their GP in 2005 to 2010, while almost one in four were diagnosed after going to A&E.

Therefore early diagnoses is key to beating the disease.

One Wigan teen, Callum Flynn, has already survived bone cancer after being diagnosed on his 14th birthday.

The 19-year-old said: “Bone cancer is one of the biggest killers in teenagers and is more common than people realise. My tumour went undiagnosed for months and it could have been a much different story. My 14th birthday was definitely not the best but at least the cancer was finally recognised.”

Callum, who lives in Leigh, was diagnosed in 2009 with osteosarcoma in his right knee after complaining of continuous problems with a “locked knee”. He started chemotherapy just days later and endured an operation for a full knee replacement followed by another course of chemo.

Callum added: “Because I was so young I didn’t really understand what was happening. But it was so stressful – especially being a teenager. I loved playing football and cricket and I had to stop because I would just constantly be so tired. The new campaign really means a lot to me. Every year bone cancer seems to raise more awareness which is the main aim. When I got diagnosed with bone cancer, I never heard of the disease.”

Since stopping all forms of chemo in August 2009 he has been clear of the cancer for five years.

Callum is now heavily involved with fund-raising and has also helped to get a new cancer drug approved in 2011.

He added: “This year has been good so far. I’ve just finished a very successful season with the England Physical Disability side.

“I also started at University at Myerscough in Preston studying Sports Coaching.”

A spokesman at Wigan Borough CCG said: “We support any initiative that helps improve people’s health across the borough and this campaign from the bone cancer research trust can only help raise awareness.”