School girl’s ‘Growing Pains’ Were actually devastating bone cancer


A schoolgirl was given the devastating news she had bone cancer after going to hospital with GROWING PAINS.

Ashleigh Massey, 12, was left in agony and struggling to go to school after the dull ache in her right leg first began in September last year.

But when the pain left preteen Ashleigh, from Chessington, south west London, in tears on October 31 dad Chris, 40, rushed her to A&E at Kingston Hospital in London.

Chris claims Ashleigh was initially assessed and the pair told they could go home but after boarding a bus back the dad-of-two received a phone call asking him and his daughter to return to the hospital.

When they returned with mum Rachael, they say they were told the registrar was not happy with the initial assessment and instead had a ‘gut feeling’ the growing pains might be cancer.

Ashleigh underwent an X-ray, MRI scan and blood tests which revealed she did in fact have osteosarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer – in her right leg.


Account manager Chris said: “From a parent’s perspective, we just assumed it was growing pains and would try and relieve the pain with paracetamol which appeared to help before she was diagnosed.

“On the day, she was on school half-term and I was working from home. The kids were all out playing but Ashleigh was just on the sofa crying her eyes out because of the pain.

“I said to her, ‘if it is that bad I suggest we go straight to A&E’. We were there for a couple of hours and she was assessed and then we went on our way.

“When we got on the bus to go home, we got a call from the registrar to say that he wasn’t happy with it and wanted us to come back in for an X-ray.

“After the tests, the registrar told us, ‘sorry’ and I asked him what that meant. He told me his gut feeling was that my daughter had cancer.

“My wife and I looked at each other with one eye on our daughter and we were absolutely devastated.


“You immediately think, ‘that’s it, we’re going to lose her’ but thankfully the registrar’s early call and gut feeling was right and we managed to catch it.”

Ashleigh, who lives with dad Chris as well as full-time mum Rachael, 41, and older brother Lennie, 14, is now undergoing chemotherapy and has had had two rounds of the treatment so far.

She is then set to go under the knife for to remove the tumour from her leg on January 31 at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, Middlesex.

The operation will see her face months of recuperation at home as she attempts to get back on her feet as well as a further year of chemotherapy.

But the blonde schoolgirl insists the loss of her hair after chemotherapy has been the toughest part of the three-month ordeal she has faced so far.

Ashleigh said: “I was quite shocked and a little bit worried when I got the news. I didn’t really know what it meant because I didn’t know anything about it before.

“The scariest thing for me has been losing my blonde hair because of the chemotherapy, that really upset me.”

Chris praised doctors for spotting the tumour and now is urging parents to be aware of the possibility aches that are often written off as growing pains could instead be a sign of a more serious illness.


He claims if Ashleigh’s cancer had not been picked up when it was she could have been forced to have her leg amputated.

Chris said: “If that registrar had not made that call on this gut feeling, and if he was not willing to put his neck on the line, then we wouldn’t have been this far on.

“If he had not have spotted it then it might only have been picked up if she had broken her leg or something like that and at that point, we could have been looking at an amputation or even worse.

“The credit has to go to the NHS. They have been supportive to our family at such a difficult time.

“This is every parent’s worst nightmare and something you hope that you would never have to go through so what I would say to parents is just have a check.

“We have never hidden anything from Ashleigh and we never will do.”

A spokesperson from Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Kingston Hospital, said: “We wish Ashleigh all the very best with her treatment and recovery and send our warmest wishes to her family at this extremely difficult time.


“At Kingston Hospital, we understand how important it is to receive an early diagnosis. We are pleased that our staff were able to take the necessary actions to diagnose Ashleigh’s condition and catch the cancerbefore it progressed.”

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head cancer information nurse, said: “Although osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in teenagers and young adults, cancers in this age group are quite rare.

“But anyone who notices unusual or persistent symptoms – like swelling or pain that isn’t related to movement – should visit their GP.

“The chances are it won’t be cancer, but if it is the earlier the disease is diagnosed the more likely treatment is to be successful.”

The Massey family are now hoping to raise £8,000 to pay for alterations to their home to allow Ashleigh to recover while she has reduced mobility and the fund has already hit more than £2,000.

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– Pain caused by bone cancer usually begins with a feeling of tenderness in the affected bone which gradually progresses to a persistent ache or ache that comes and goes, according to NHS Choices.

– Pain associated with bone cancer is most commonly felt in the arms or the long bones of the legs.

– The pain can sometimes be wrongly mistaken for arthritis in adults and growing pains in children and teenagers.

-There are just 400 cases of osteosarcoma diagnosed in the UK every year.