A Wigan couple are warning parents of the misleading symptoms of childhood leukaemia following the shock diagnosis of their young son.
Theo Hamilton, a “happy and healthy” three-year-old, was rushed to Manchester Children’s Hospital from Wigan Infirmary after doctors suspected he was suffering from the rare disease.
The Upholland youngster was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia by specialists after his parents, Katt and Loz Hamilton, took him to A&E believing that he was suffering from meningitis when he developed a rash on his back.
Katt, a 36-year-old mum-of-three, said that if it was not for her own experiences with meningitis just two years ago, her son may still be undiagnosed today.
“Theo has always been an active little boy who can’t sit still,” said Katt. “He has never missed a day off school, he’s just always been well.
“During the holidays he went to his nans and fell on the trampoline. He was struggling to walk on it. We took him to Ormskirk Hospital and they said he had just twisted it.
“Shortly after we went on holiday and he just couldn’t walk properly – he was struggling to get up and down the the stairs, which just isn’t him and he was tired all the time.
“He was quite greyish in colour and just barely eating anything. When he was sleeping he would sweat loads.”
Concerned, the couple - who have two older sons aged 12 and 14, took him back to hospital – but were again sent away saying that he was being a “typical” youngster who wanted picking up and carrying.
“He started getting really anxious going to school,” added Katt. “He started getting nosebleeds and headaches and then got a cold and could not shift it.
“One day he fell on the floor and banged his knees - at the end of the day we noticed they were black. The next day he came home from school and we noticed more bruises.
“When we put him in the bath we noticed the rash on his back. I put a tumbler on it and it didn’t disappear. I had meningitis two years ago so that was the first thing I thought so we flew over to Wigan hospital.”
An apprehensive Katt said that she felt she had to explain herself to doctors, due to the amount of bruising on Theo’s body.
“I didn’t realise she was tallying all of the symptoms up in her head,” she added. “She said she thought it could be Leukaemia - it just blew me away.
“I dread to think what would have happened if that rash didn’t appear. He might still have been undiagnosed.”
Theo was immediately put on a treatment plan - which is expected to last the next three years including intravenous chemotherapy and steroids.
“We are taking each day as it comes,” added Katt. “It’s him that is fighting it not us - and he is still smiling every single day so we can too. “Some children respond really well to the treatment.”
Due to the impact the cancer and the chemotherapy is having on Theo’s immune system, the family has had to considerably adapt their way of life to protect their little boy.
“We have got to be really careful.”
After hearing about the family’s plight, the community began to rally together to raise money for the family - who are trying to support three children whilst taking weeks off work.
Bosses at Holland Hall, where Loz has worked as a chef since May this year - have offered to continue paying his salary while his son battles for his health.
The popular venue will also host their own Christmas markets this year to raise money for the family and a charity of their choice.
Julia Hale, events co-ordinator at Holland Hall, said: “ The Hamilton family are a loved and popular family within the community of Upholland and we are expecting this event to be busy.
“We would be overjoyed with any form of donation.”
The couple have voiced their gratitude for the community and both of their respective employers.
“Everyone has been absolutely amazing,” added Kat. “We are overwhelmed by the level of support we have received it’s just amazing.
“We feel really supported by everyone. Holland Hall have been brilliant and my employers Wrightington Country Club.
“Theo’s school, St Thomas the Martyr, have just been so supportive - they have even offered to come to the house if that’s what he needs and they have been to visit each week.
“Staff at The Britannia Pub raised over £2000 with the help of a local band .
“We also had a group of lads do a charity football match raising £300 , a YouTuber called Aidan Fields did a show on him an raised £500 with his fans.
“My friend’s little boy Harvey Chu who absolutely loves his hair do did “brave the shave “ for Theo so he wasn’t alone with losing his hair.”
Theo’s Christmas Markets will take place at Holland Hall on December 2, from 12.30pm.