AN eight-year-old girl has died after a graze caused by a fall in the playground revealed she had cancer.
Georgia Findlay died on July 8 from Wilms’ tumour – a rare form of kidney cancer.
Her heartbroken mum, Ria, 36, initially thought that the horse-loving youngster had grazed the left side of her stomach when she complained about pain on February 18 last year.
But she was shocked when a closer look revealed the muscle wall on the left side of Georgia’s stomach had given way – and a huge tumour was poking out.
Ria, a waitress from Swadlincote, Derbys., immediately took her daughter to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where tests revealed she had kidney cancer.
Recalling when she first spotted the tumour, Ria said: “Georgia was just an ordinary child, who loved to play out and have fun, and who loved her horse riding.
“She had only had her birthday fairly recently, and we were at a soft playground with some friends when I saw her trip.
“It seemed to be completely innocuous, but she started to complain that she had this pain in her stomach.
“You know what kids are like – they’re always picking up bumps and bruises, and I just assumed that this was another of those.
“I thought she had grazed her stomach or something like that. But when she lifted up her shirt and showed me, I could tell almost straightaway that something was wrong.
“There was a big bump poking out through her stomach, and it had gone all limp – as though there was no muscle there or anything.”
The schoolgirl looked to be in remission following an operation and a course of chemotherapy, but on December 23 tests showed the tumour had returned and was terminal.
Ria, who also has a daughter Matilda, five, decided not to tell Georgia how ill she was in a bid to “let her be a normal child” for the final months of her life.
Ria added: “She wasn’t showing any signs of being ill, but it just didn’t look good. I was fearful right from the start.
“I was trying to reassure myself that it was could be something like constipation, or perhaps appendicitis – something fairly minor.
“The next night, as I put her to bed she burst into tears and said that it hurt again. That was when I started to think it could be very serious.
“The day I got the results of the blood tests was a horrendous blur, it was probably the darkest moment of my life.
“I just remember being told that she had stage four cancer in her kidney and that it had already spread to her lung, and then completely phasing out.
“I thought before that it could be cancer, but I didn’t realise it was so advanced. Had we not found it when we did, it would have been terminal straight from the first diagnosis.”
Georgia started chemotherapy on March 4, last year and by April 27 she’d had an operation to remove the kidney, as well as receiving treatment for a collapsed lung.
On June 8, she had an operation to remove four tumours on her lung and continued with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
But in December a scan showed that the cancer had returned in the spot where the kidney once was, and on December 23 doctors told Ria that her daughter’s condition was terminal.
Ria recalled: “Up until that stage it had appeared that she was getting better, but then, just like that, we were given the news that she wouldn’t pull through.
“I’m always sceptical, but I was really starting to believe that she was going to get well again and overcome it.
“Suddenly, all of that was taken away. It was agony.
“The cancer had reappeared on her kidney, and a blood clot had formed above her heart.
“Of course Georgia was aware that she had cancer and that she was poorly, but I made a conscious decision not to tell her quite how bad it was.
“She was so young, and I wanted her to be a child, and spend her life as comfortably and as happily as she could.
“I don’t think we ever really talked about the potential of her dying. From time to time she would worry about things, but she handled the whole situation in such an adult way.”
Ria said Georgia was an “amazing child” with a “wonderful zest for life”.
Georgia was just a week away from her dream trip to Disneyland Paris when she passed away.
“She lived every day to the maximum, even before her treatment,” Ria said.
“She was absolutely obsessed with her horses. One of the doctors told her that she shouldn’t be riding them while she was ill, and she told him where to go.
“Throughout the treatment she was more tired than usual, but other than that she was just her usual self.
“It was always a question of quality of life over quantity, and as it came up to summer it was clear that she didn’t have long left.
“I had arranged a trip to go to Disneyland Paris for the three of us, which would have been her dream trip.”
Before Georgia died her family kept her at home for as long as possible, but towards the end she was taken into hospital where she would be more comfortable.
Ria said: “I don’t think she suffered in the end.
“She slipped away peacefully, surrounded by her family.
“Although it was absolutely heart-breaking knowing that she was going to pass away, I feel so lucky to have been able to have those last few months with her.
“They’re moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life, because she really was a wonderful little girl.
“One of the tragedies from my perspective is that Wilms’ tumour isn’t more well known.
“One of the worst elements is that it doesn’t have many symptoms until it’s quite far developed – so Georgia was, on the face of things, perfectly healthy until we found the tumour.”