Twenty three-year-old, Michelle Birch of Kendal Grove, Bentilee, a young mother diagnosed her four-year-old daughter's blood cancer using the internet after a doctor dismissed her illness as an ear infection.
Little Alia-Grace Birch is facing the fight of her life and will need at least two years of intensive treatment after being diagnosed with blood cancer last month.
AdvertisementMichelle first noticed something was seriously wrong when the toddler's nursery teachers sounded an alert that she kept falling asleep. She took her to a GP who waved away her fears, saying the toddler was probably suffering from an ear infection and sent her home with antibiotics.
When Michelle went online to Google Alia's symptoms, she was convinced her daughter's condition was much more serious. Within a few days later Michelle rushed the little girl to accident & emergency ward (A&E) at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire where tests revealed the four-year old was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Alia was transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital where she was given steroids, antibiotics and started chemotherapy.
Michelle has now shaved her hair off in support of her daughter, whose locks fell out days after starting treatment.
"It's horrible, you never expect something like this to happen to your baby girl. We're all in this together and we just hope my little girl will get better. I don't think she fully understands. She knows she's poorly but not how serious it is," says the supportive mother.
Alia has now been allowed home but she needs drugs every day and a lumbar puncture - where a needle is injected into her spine - once a week.
"At first she wasn't happy when we said she's going to lose her hair, because it was really long and she thought she was Rapunzel. Bits had been coming out, then the day it all came out in a big clump she looked in a mirror and said, 'it's okay, it will grow back'," added Alia's 42-year old grandmother Joanne Horton-Birch.
She also said that getting the diagnosis was devastating as Alia's white blood count should be between eight and 10 but it was 300 so they knew straight away it was leukaemia.
Joanne hopefully says, "If it hadn't been for Alia, how she's coped, I think we would all be in bits. Seeing how strong she is with everything she's going through, she still smiles. She makes us strong."