Mum told by doctors her son’s cancer symptoms were constipation and he ‘just needed potty training’

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Five-year-old Adam was found to have a tennis-ball sized tumour in his stomach

A mum has told how her son’s cancer symptoms were initially misdiagnosed by doctors as constipation, and that he “just needed potty training”.

Sheena Harrad, now 37, took her little boy Adam to the doctors after growing concerned about his lack of verbal communication and increased crying when he was two-years-old.

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She was told by doctors that Adam was constipated and was simply in need of potty training. Unsatisfied with the diagnosis, Ms Harrad was in and out of A&E with her son but each time she was told there was nothing wrong, despite him suffering leg pain.

Adam Harrard pictured during his 6 year journey through cancer treatment (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS)Adam Harrard pictured during his 6 year journey through cancer treatment (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS)
Adam Harrard pictured during his 6 year journey through cancer treatment (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS) | Sheena Harrad / SWNS

At age five, Adam had an MRI scan which revealed he had ganglioneuroblastoma - an intermediate tumour that arises from nerve tissues. It was found that he had a 15cm cancerous tumour in his stomach and another wrapped around his spine, which was to blame for his toilet troubles and difficulty walking.

The brave little boy underwent a 12-hour operation to remove the tumour from his stomach and spine, and now at age eight, he is back at school and playing with his friends, although he will never be able to walk.

Ms Harrad,  a stay-at-home mum-of-five from Coalville, Derbyshire, said she is glad she persisted until she found an explanation for his symptoms.

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She said: “Adam has got to be referred to a spinal clinic as his sines got worse. He will never be able to walk again properly but he is loving life. No obstacle is too big or too small for him.”

Adam’s cancer symptoms were initially misdiagnosed as constipation (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS)Adam’s cancer symptoms were initially misdiagnosed as constipation (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS)
Adam’s cancer symptoms were initially misdiagnosed as constipation (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS) | Sheena Harrad / SWNS

Speaking of her struggle to get help for Adam, she said: “He was about two years old when it all started. He couldn’t speak much, he was crying constantly and I kept taking him to the doctors but they were saying he was constipated."

Adam was diagnosed with cancer at Nottingham Hospital in 2020 and due to strict Covid restrictions at the time, Ms Harrad had to stay at home with her other children during the surgery to remove his tumours.

She said: “After the 12-hour surgery I got a phone call saying it was urgent and I had to go to the hospital - I thought he was dead

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“They removed his stomach tumour but there is a bit left on his spine that is still being monitored. He has bent legs, he will never be able to walk.”

Adam was diagnosed with cancer at Nottingham Hospital in 2020 (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS)Adam was diagnosed with cancer at Nottingham Hospital in 2020 (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS)
Adam was diagnosed with cancer at Nottingham Hospital in 2020 (Photo: Sheena Harrad / SWNS) | Sheena Harrad / SWNS

Doctors are monitoring the size of the tumour on his spine to make sure that Adam’s cancer doesn’t come back.

Ms Harrad said: “It is horrible - every test that comes you are sh*tting yourself. He is still in and out of the hospital for various tests. We found a lump on his back last week. We rushed him to A&E and found out the lump was because his spine is more bent."

Adam has scoliosis and due to the weakness in his legs he gets around using a walking aid. But his inability to walk doesn’t hold him back and Ms Harrad said he is doing very well at school.

She added: “He is very sassy. You wouldn’t think there is anything wrong with him. He loves playing on his Xbox, superheroes and eating - he is a typical lad at that age."

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