We thought our son's screams in the night were down to a tick bite but the reality was heartbreaking

WHEN Jude Mellon-Jameson started screaming of pain in the night, his parents assumed it was because he had been bitten by a tick.

It was the summer of 2021, and the insects are abundant in woods, fields and some parks across the UK.

Lucy and Arron, from Sheffield, never in a million years thought their little boy would have cancer. 

But on the eve of his third birthday, they were told Jude had neuroblastoma – a cancer that affects around 100 children a year in the UK, according to the NHS.

Neuroblastoma most commonly occurs in one of the adrenal glands situated above the kidneys, or in the nerve tissue that runs alongside the spinal cord in the neck, chest, tummy or pelvis.

At the point of diagnosis, Jude was given just a 50 per cent chance of long-term survival.

Lucy, 33, said she had barely noticed any symptoms in her son.

She told the Yorkshire Post: “We didn’t notice a huge lump, and he had not seemed really unwell. 

“There were changes in his behaviour and in him, but nothing was constant, it was often just for a couple of hours. 


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“We’d take him to the children’s hospital and then he’d be running around A&E.”

Eventually, Jude was suffering pain in his hip and leg and occasionally had a limp. He was sweating during the night and had a slight change in appetite.

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After several trips to A&E, numerous tests were undertaken to find out the cause of the range of symptoms Jude was experiencing. 

In the end, the family were asked if they wanted doctors to perform an MRI.

Jude underwent an MRI scan and later that evening, his family were given the news a tumour had been found.

Lucy said: “I never thought it was going to be cancer.

“We stayed in hospital, and there were so many emotions. 

“But since then, we’ve not had the chance to get emotional because so much has been happening so quickly.

“He’s barely started his life before cancer has tried to snatch it away from him. 

“We have been told 40 to 50 per cent of children diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma will not respond completely to standard treatment, or the cancer will come back.

“If a child does relapse with neuroblastoma, their chances of long-term survival are less than 10 per cent.”

Jude’s treatment started soon after his diagnosis and he has responded well so far, with seven months left to go.

He has had chemotherapy, six surgeries, including one to remove the primary tumour, 10 blood transfusions and a stem cell transplant.

He is currently on a three-week course of radiotherapy which will require a daily general anaesthetic. 

Jude will then go onto immunotherapy treatment which is the last phase of frontline treatment available on the NHS.  

Lucy told Yorkshire Live: "He is pretty much cancer free at the moment, but the diagnosis is still high-risk, which comes with the high-risk of it coming back."

The family fear a relapse could be devastating for Jude.

Desperate to give the youngster the best chance possible, his family are hoping to raise money for treatment in the US.

They need hundreds of thousands of pounds for pioneering treatment – a vaccine that is being trialled.

Many families whose lives have been shattered by neuroblastoma seek access to the Bivalent Vaccine, which may help to extend the lives of children with the cancer.

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Jude’s family, their friends and the wider community have already raised a huge amount of money for the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

To donate to Jude's treatment fund, click here.

Symptoms of neuroblastoma

Symptoms of neuroblastoma

The symptoms of neuroblastoma vary depending on where the cancer is and whether it's spread, the NHS says.

The early symptoms can be vague and hard to spot, and can easily be mistaken for those of more common childhood conditions.

Symptoms can include:

  • a swollen, painful tummy, sometimes with constipation and difficulty peeing
  • breathlessness and difficulty swallowing
  • a lump in the neck
  • blueish lumps in the skin and bruising, particularly around the eyes
  • weakness in the legs and an unsteady walk, with numbness in the lower body, constipation and difficulty peeing
  • fatigue, loss of energy, pale skin, loss of appetite and weight loss
  • bone pain, a limp and general irritability
  • rarely, jerky eye and muscle movements

Symptoms of childhood cancer

See your GP if your child has unusual signs or symptoms that do not go away, such as:

  • an unusual lump or swelling
  • unexplained paleness and loss of energy
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • an ongoing pain in one area of the body
  • limping
  • unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
  • frequent headaches, often with vomiting
  • sudden eye or vision changes
  • sudden unexplained weight loss

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