Stunning teen thanks her mum for saving her life after she dismissed gobstopper-sized tumour as toothache

A stunning teenager has thanked her mum for saving her life after she dismissed a gobstopper-sized tumour as toothache.


Nadia Hobbs, 18, from St Thomas, Exeter, first started suffering from ‘toothache’ after noticing a small pea-sized lump on her jawline.

When the pain refused to budge and the lump doubled in size, Nadia had blood tests to rule out common causes like mumps and glandular fever but her results came back clear.

The student is now crediting her mum, Rachel Hobbs, 44, and her actions after she took her daughter straight to A&E – something that led to her early diagnosis.

Nadia was finally diagnosed with an aggressive and extremely rare form of child’s cancer – Rhabdomyosarcoma – after further tests and an MRI scan revealed a mass in her cheek.

Amazingly, after gruelling rounds of chemotherapy Nadia’s tumour has now shrunk by 75 per cent.

The family are now fundraising to raise awareness to encourage other young people to be persistent if their symptoms don’t go away.

Nadia, a childcare student at Exeter College said: “I don’t know what I’d do without my mum, I never thought I would get cancer and thanks to her I got the diagnosis I needed sooner rather than later.

“My jaw began to ache in the beginning and I only found the lump when I tried to massage the area to relieve the pain a little.

“Mum was concerned from day one but the lump was so tiny and it felt similar to the pain of a wisdom tooth coming through.

“Both my GP and dentist were baffled with the cause of my pain as my bloods came back clear.

“I was then referred to a specialist but by this point my jaw had swollen to the size of a gobstopper, I couldn’t even smile any more, the pain was

excruciating so mum said she’d had enough and took me straight to A&E.

“Thankfully I had more tests while in hospital and an MRI scan revealed a mass on my right cheek, finally after a number of weeks and a liquid and and tissue biopsy I was given the devastating diagnosis.

“That day hit me like a brick wall, I was so scared I cried for what seemed like forever I was so scared.

“Luckily I have the best mum in the world, she’s given me the support I’ve needed to stay strong and together she’s helping me to kick cancer’s butt.

“Now I’m raising awareness as young people never think they will get cancer, I certainly didn’t and Rhabdomyosarcoma is so rare that early signs

and symptoms can often be missed. “


After beginning chemotherapy just weeks later on October 31 last year, Nadia has been on a rollercoaster journey.

Thankfully after seven cycles of chemotherapy the huge mass attached to Nadia’s jaw has now shrunk by 75 per cent.

Nadia has just two cycles of chemotherapy left and has now started six weeks of radiotherapy with hopes to completely destroy the tumour.

Nadia said: “The size of the tumour completely shocked us all, I couldn’t believe how huge it was.

“I’d always been completely healthy before my diagnosis, I was applying for university and really happy with my life.

“I was completely devastated, I really don’t know how I’d cope if I was diagnosed with cancer again now.

“Some days have been really tough, no-one can prepare you for the treatment and the effects it has, but now the tumour has shrunk so much it’s all been worth it.

“I’ve tried to remain positive throughout and have met some really amazing people along the way.”

After Nadia’s hair began to fall out in clumps due to gruelling chemotherapy she bravely decided to shave her hair off completely.

Mum Rachel, a full time mum and carer for Nadia said: “The hardest part for Nads was definitely losing her hair.

“But now she’s completely embraced it and loves her wig, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

“Finding out your child has cancer is any parents worst nightmare.

“Doctors told me two weeks before they told Nadia what they suspected the mass was, but when they confirmed it we were all absolutely heartbroken.

“I’m so incredibly proud of Nads, I don’t know where she gets her strength and determination from, she’s been through so much and I’m just glad she got diagnosed when she did.

Nadia with her mum Rachel raising money for The Teenage Cancer Trust

Nadia with her mum Rachel raising money for The Teenage Cancer Trust

“The lump grew in size so quickly and my maternal instincts told me something more serious was wrong, it was unbearable seeing her in so much pain.

“I haven’t saved Nads’ life by any means, I just kept pushing for a diagnosis and made sure she was treated as soon as possible and now we are hoping for the best.

“Her particular kind of cancer is extremely rare, especially for her age, but I think more should have been done sooner.

“I hope other young people as well as parents and doctors can learn from Nads’ story.”

Nadia said: “Since my diagnosis I’ve tried so hard to raise awareness and I want to thank all my family and friends for supporting me.

“My boyfriend Callum has been my absolute rock too, he’s been by my side every step of the way.

“I’m now fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust, they’ve been amazing and I wanted to give something back and so far a huge team of us have

managed to raise £15,000.

“This weekend a team are taking part in the RockSolid Race in Exeter , not just for me but for all the teenagers and young adults out there with

cancer – if you’d like to donate go to

“I want to warn other young people that cancer can affect anyone at any time, luckily I was diagnosed within eight weeks, but things could be very

different now.


“I think young people needed to be taken more seriously when it comes to their health.

“I still don’t know what my future holds but I know I’m going to fight cancer every step of the way.”

A health care surgery spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on individual patients history due to confidentiality. However the practice has been backing Nadia’s fundraising and awareness campaign and we hope she makes a speedy recovery.”

Mark Hooley, Communications Manager for Children with Cancer said: “Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of cancer known as sarcoma in which the abnormal cells look like immature skeletal muscle.

“It can begin in many different places in the body but the most common sites are around the head and neck, the bladder or the testes.

“Sometimes tumours may be found in a muscle or a limb, in the chest, or in the abdominal wall.

“RMS is a relatively rare form of cancer. When it does occur, it is most commonly seen in young children aged one to five years old, accounting for up to 4% of cancers in the 0 to 14 age group overall – around 60 cases a year in the UK.

“Less commonly, it is seen in teens aged 15 to 19, accounting for around 2% of cancers in this age group – only around 20 cases a year in the UK.

“It can develop in adulthood, although this is even more rare.

“Because it can occur in different parts of the body, it is difficult to be specific about the signs and symptoms of RMS as they will depend on where the cancer forms.

“Generally a lump or swelling, anywhere in the body, is a cause for concern and medical advice should be sought.”