Boy left with a giant nose after ‘mosquito bite’ turned out to be rare cancer that left him with a tennis ball sized tumour
A schoolboy was left with a giant nose after what he thought was a bug bite on holiday turned out to be a deadly cancer.
Matthew Kirk, 11, from Blakedown, Kidderminster, first spotted the ‘mosquito bite’ lump on a family holiday.
But after it more than doubled in size his parents sought medical treatment.
It was discovered the lump was actually a deadly Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma –an ultra-rare cancerous tumours of the connective tissue which only affects 10 people a year.
The large mass in his nostril had grown up towards his eye and across his top lip, leaving doctors no other option but to fly Matthew out to Oklahoma, USA, for specialist proton beam therapy.
His terrified parents, Joanne and Niel, 42 and 43, travelled with their son for the intense nine week treatment that targets and destroys cancerous cells in January last year.
After returning to the UK, he underwent a final blast of intensive chemotherapy and has now finally been given the all-clear.
Mum Joanne, a maths teacher, said: “At first we thought Matthew just had a mosquito bite because it was such a small swelling and we had just returned from Menorca.
“Over a couple of weeks it grew considerably bigger and it was only when a friend made a comment about his swollen nostril that we thought it could be something worse.
“Doctors initially thought it was a bacterial infection but after an in-depth scan they revealed there was a mass in Matthew’s nose I was horrified.
“By this point the large tumour had grown from his nostril up towards his eye socket and around the lip, it was around the size of a tennis ball, I was terrified.
“As soon as doctors mentioned that he would need chemotherapy I burst into tears as it had suddenly hit me that my son had cancer.
“At the time it never crossed my mind that Matthew could have cancer, because he was such healthy and active child, who was never ill nor had any time off from school.
“After doctors took a biopsy of the tumour it continue to grow even more – with this type of cancer once it’s disturbed it rapidly swells in a very short space of time.
“From there we were told Matthew would need chemotherapy and would likely need specialist proton therapy to kill off the cancer due to it being in such a sensitive area – near to his eyes.
“The treatment was very intense, which left Matthew’s face burnt and peeling as well as giving him severe blisters in his mouth but we knew it was the only way to save our son.
“After flying back from America through the night Matthew was so determined to go back to school and see his friends that he went in having barely slept.
“When he went into the school his classmates gave him a massive cheer and were so happy to see him back after such extreme treatment – it really warmed my heart.”
Matthew started a high dosage of chemo and radiotherapy in October 2014 to shrink the tumour to a small enough size for the proton beam therapy to work.
Joanne added: “Before treatment we cut his hair short to stop the hair loss from chemotherapy being so traumatic for him
“But three weeks into his first cycle of treatment his hair began to fall out in large clumps all over his pillows, it was pretty heart breaking when it happened.
“But he was strong about it all, he covered his head with a cap and would go into school whenever he could, he was so remarkably brave throughout it all.”
Matthew’s family started a fundraiser so that his whole family could travel with him to the USA and remarkably the local community generously donated the funds.
After treatment the primary school pupil underwent physiotherapy to treat problems with his balance and walking.
Joanne said: “We can’t thank everyone enough who donated to help us be with Matthew during such a horrible time, as a parent it’s one of the hardest things you can possibly go through.
“Now I’m very relieved it’s over and we all can’t wait to continue with the rest of our lives.”
Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) reports that only 10 people in the UK are diagnosed with the dangerous form of cancer that Matthew had.
Dr Dave Hobin, Clinical Lead for Paediatric and Adolescent Oncology at BCH who treated Matthew said: “Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is a particularly rare form of cancer that occurs in the soft tissue.
“Matthew’s treatment included intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can be demanding, especially for young people.
“Matthew was a real star, showing great courage and determination throughout this nine-month period.
“We’re really pleased with his progress and delighted to hear he’s enjoying all the things a young person of his age should be.”
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