A mum whose toddler’s clumsiness turned out to be a sign of cancer is urging other parents to trust their instincts if they think something is wrong with their child.
When Kamila Stopa, from Cambuslang, Scotland, spotted that her two-year-old son Alex was struggling to walk and complaining of headaches, her gut instinct told her something wasn’t right.
The 32-year-old was told that the toddler’s walking issues, poor co-ordination and dizziness would wear off eventually.
But, concerned it might be something more serious, she pushed for a brain scan and in January the scans revealed Alex was suffering from medulloblastoma, a rare form of cancerous tumour which starts in or near the part of the brain called the cerebellum.
The brave youngster is now undergoing gruelling chemotherapy after having had 90% of the tumour removed from his brain.
“The day Alex was diagnosed was the worst day of my life,” Kamila says.
“To see him in this state now is just shocking.
”He's only two and a half years old. Why has this happened to him?”
Alex was finally diagnosed with the condition earlier this year after months of headaches, dizziness and poor coordination.
“It began in the summer,” Kamila explains.
“Alex was running around happily one minute and the next he came to me and he said he wanted to go sleep.
“I looked at him and realised there was something wrong with him.
“I could see he was dizzy so I put him to bed but after ten minutes he seemed fine.”
Kamila said she thought little of the incident but last October, Alex started struggling to walk, so she urged her GP to refer Alex for a brain scan.
“He started struggling to walk and became clumsy.
“He was still just 18 months old though so I didn't think there was anything wrong, I just thought that perhaps he was a late developer.
“But, towards the beginning of November his walking became worse, not better.”
At this point Kamila really started becoming concerned, particularly when Alex also started to become tired and lethargic.
Eventually Alex was referred to a neurologist who recommended the toddler have an urgent brain scan after which the family was given the devastating news that Alex had medulloblastoma.
The brave tot endured a ten hour operation to remove 90% of the tumour.
Because of the location of the remaining 10% of the tumour deep within his brain, Alex is undergoing gruelling chemotherapy to remove the tumour.
“We have been in hospital for four weeks now and from the first day here to the most recent it's felt like a bad dream,” Kamila says.
“It was horrible for us to see Alex on an intensive care ward in this state.
Kamila says she finds it difficult to look back on a time when Alex was well.
“I can't look at any photos of Alex before this happened,” she says.
“It's shocking to think where we are now and where we were just a few months ago.”
Kamila, and her partner Pawel, 28, have both had to leave work in order to care for Alex full-time.
“We spend every day in hospital and I don’t even think about the life we had before because it makes me upset,” she says.
But, despite his ordeal Kamila says Alex has kept a smile on his face throughout his treatment.
“Everyone who knows him loves him.
“He's handsome and full of energy and curious about everything, he's just a perfect boy.
“Alex is just two-years-old. No child should go through this but we doing the best we can to make him smile in this hard time.
“He doesn't understand why he can’t come back to home, we need to do whatever it takes to make him happy and healthy again.”
Now Kamila wants to encourage other parents not to ignore their instincts when they feel something is wrong with their children.‘
“I knew something was wrong with [Alex] but I wasn’t sure what it was,” she says.
“Don't listen to people when they say 'your baby fine just give him time'.
“People kept telling me that but I should have just listened to my instincts from the beginning.”
The family are currently trying to raise £10,000 on GoFundMe to help support themselves while Alex is receiving treatment.
You can donate here.