Supporting families of children and young
 people with cancer in the East Midlands

Two-year-old Florence, from Hinkley Leicestershire, was found to have a fast-growing tumour in her stomach in August 2021.

The diagnosis came about after her mum, Sophie, spotted that Florence’s tummy was swollen and hard. Initially this was suspected to be constipation and Sophie was told to call back 48 hours later if there was no improvement. Unfortunately the swelling didn’t go down, Florence was taken to hospital and given an ultrasound.

The doctor said ‘I’ve found a lump’ and that was it, I broke down in tears, thinking the worst.”

Florence and Sophie

Sophie received the devastating news that Florence’s lump was ‘more than likely’ a cancerous tumour. A rhabdomyosarcoma.

“There was no one there to support me because of Covid. Being a young mum and hearing that on your own, it was not okay.”

In just ten days since first discovering the lump it had grown by around 5cm. “It was terrifying,” said Sophie. “I could see and feel it growing in her tummy, it’s such a fast-growing cancer.”

Florence quickly began a course of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour. Thankfully in November 2021 MRI scans confirmed treatment was working and the tumour was smaller.

Florence underwent surgery later that month to remove the tumour. “It was about the size of a pomegranate,” said Sophie. “And that was after four rounds of chemo to shrink it. It’s amazing to look at the fruit, how heavy that would be in a little two year old’s body.”

Florence

Florence began a course of radiotherapy at the start of January 2022 to hopefully prevent the tumour coming back.

“She still has moments of being scared, tears and her down days, but she has coped extremely well. Better than I thought and expected,” said Sophie.

Since the diagnosis the young family have been supported by PASIC with Florence enjoying some welcome distractions from treatment on PASIC trips.

“We went on the Santa train organised by PASIC and Florence really enjoyed it, and seeing Santa. It was a nice treat as Florence had just finished round five of chemo that same morning.”

What would Sophie say to other parents at the start of their child’s cancer diagnosis?

It’s hard but you can do it! Your little warrior keeps you going and you do your best for them always. You know your child better than anyone. Always ask questions and if you need to ask them again; do it. No one will judge, even if you feel it’s the most ridiculous question ever. You’ve got this!”

Sophie shares Florence’s story on the Instagram account @rhabdomyosarcoma_and_me