Monday 19th October 2020
Teenage Cancer Trust launch symptom awareness campaign #BestToCheck and calls for:
- Referrals for young people even if level of suspicion is low
- Increased cancer awareness amongst young people
22-year-old Dhneep Bains, known as Neepy, went to her doctor over ten times in a 10-month period with persistent pain, sickness and difficulty walking on her left leg. She was continuously sent away with pain relief and advised to exercise to relieve her symptoms. The on-going delay to diagnosis resulted in Neepy passing away in July this year.
Neepy’s mum Ram, is sharing her story as part of Teenage Cancer Trust’s #BestToCheck campaign. The campaign calls on doctors to make referrals at the earliest opportunity, even when they have lower levels of suspicion. The campaign also aims to remind young people of the common signs and symptoms of cancer, and despite the pressure coronavirus has placed on the NHS, urges them to contact their GP at the earliest opportunity.
Neepy, an aspiring hairdresser and photographer from Essex was eventually admitted to hospital in April 2018, in extreme pain, unable to sleep and only able to drag her leg. She was diagnosed with stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma of the pelvis, resulting in 26 rounds of chemotherapy starting in May 2018 and six to eight weeks of radiotherapy, alongside grueling side effects.
Neepy finished treatment in December 2018 but a routine scan the following month revealed she had a secondary growth on the lung. Neepy restarted chemotherapy in January 2019, followed by radiotherapy but as the cancer wasn’t shrinking, she was advised to live her life to fullest before the cancer returned. Neepy passed away at home, surrounded by her friends and family, on Sunday 12 July 2020.
Ram Waltho-Brar said: “No one should ever find themselves in the position my dear daughter and my family did. People are needlessly losing their lives to this disease and will continue to do so if change doesn’t take place. The starting point for that begins here with increased awareness amongst young people and healthcare professionals so diagnosis can happen much earlier.”
Dr Louise Soanes, Director of Services at Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “Cancer is thankfully rare in teenagers and young adults, accounting for just 1% of all cancer diagnosis. However, because cancer is less common in this age group, they often have to visit their doctor numerous times before they get a diagnosis. The status quo cannot remain and we each have a part to play when it comes to changing that.
“Symptoms of cancer can be wide ranging – from persistent pain and lumps and bumps to unexplained bruising - and young people can see their doctor with one, or several signs. Whilst not all symptoms mean someone has cancer, diagnosing cancer early can have a significant impact on a young person’s life. It can be the difference between life and death. It’s crucial that everybody knows the signs and symptoms of cancer and healthcare professionals refer, even with a lower level of suspicion. It is always best to check.”
Throughout her treatment, Neepy, who is described as ‘bubbly’ and ‘loving’ by her mum, kept a journal, and during the final weeks of her life, candidly wrote about her outlook on illness, stressing the importance for other young people to check their symptoms no matter how big or small.
Neepy, who was supported by Teenage Cancer Trust during her treatment, wrote: “I was so naive when it came to healthcare, so carefree I never felt the need to see the doctor, silly for letting my mind think nothing serious could actually happen to me. I finally smelt the coffee. One piece of advice I can guarantee particularly the ages between 35 and under - if you feel weird in any shape or form, body feels different, continuous pain or even if it’s a one off - GO TO YOUR DOCTOR!!!!!!! No matter how little or small your problem you make sure you get your arse down there and keep going if they send you packing. Let’s get educated, help our young as well as old and keep beating cancer.”
Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in 13 to 24-year-olds but with early diagnosis, lives can be saved and the risk of developing other complications is reduced. Through its #BestToCheck, Teenage Cancer Trust is urging all young people to look out for:
- lumps, bumps or swellings
- unexplained tiredness
- mole changes
- persistent pain
- significant weight change.
Dr Soanes said: “Cancer referrals were down by as much as 75% in England across all age groups and though referral rates are recovering, there is no sign of coronavirus subsiding. We’re worried that young people might delay visits to their GP or attending hospital.
“Coronavirus doesn’t stop people getting cancer. Look out for lumps, bumps or swellings, unexplained tiredness, mole changes, persistent pain and significant weight change. If you are worried, contact your GP as soon as possible. Early diagnosis can save lives.”
Find out more about #BestToCheck and the signs and symptoms of cancer: www.teenagecancertrust.org/signs
Ram Waltho-Brar and other case studies are available for interview.
For more information, to set up an interview with a Teenage Cancer Trust spokesperson or for photographs, please contact:
Lauren Snaith, Media & PR Manager (Policy & Campaigns), on 07852 998234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruwani Purcell, Deputy Director of Communications on 07958 222580 or email Ruwani.email@example.com
For out of hours media enquiries, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 0757 225 1265.
Notes to editors
- A selection of photographs of Neepy are available
- Video footage is available of Teenage Cancer Trust nurses Sue Morgan and Dave Wright here: They talk about the common signs and symptoms of cancer.
- Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in 13-24 year olds - there are an estimated 2,397 cases of cancer diagnosed in 13-24 year old’s in England annually (this equates to 6.8 a day) and 255 deaths
- Early diagnosis is important for survival rates as patients diagnosed at an early stage are more likely to survive cancer
- Young people often aren’t aware of the symptoms of cancer. A UK study found that young people recognised on average 4.4 (of 11) cancer risk factor.
About Teenage Cancer Trust
- Cancer isn’t stopping for coronavirus and neither is Teenage Cancer Trust. The charity has launched an urgent fundraising appeal to raise £6 million to maintain its frontline services. Donate today: www.teenagecancertrust.org/donate
- Every day, seven young people in the UK aged 13 to 24 hear the words "you have cancer".
- Teenage Cancer Trust puts young people in the best possible place, physically, mentally and emotionally, for their cancer treatment and beyond.
- We do it through our expert nurses, support teams, and hospital units. And we're the only UK charity dedicated to providing this specialised nursing care and support.
- Teenage Cancer Trust is a registered charity: 1062559 (England & Wales), SC039757