A teenager has died after doctors misdiagnosed her cancer suggesting her weight loss was due to her desire to be a “stick insect” like most teenage girls.
Georgia Marrison began suffering from tiredness and persistent vomiting when she was studying for her A-level exams.
But when the college student’s weight loss was put down to severe anaemia – with one doctor even suggesting it was because she wanted to be thin.
Despite the teenager’s mother begging doctors to pay attention to her daughter’s symptoms, one doctor told her, “I know what you 18-year-olds are like for wanting to look like stick insects”.
The teenager’s aggressive form of stomach cancer was missed for five months before she was finally diagnosed. She died just two months later.
Her mother Joanne, 51, said the family were dealt the devastating diagnosis on the day Georgia was due to move in to her room at the University of Sheffield, where she was set to study English Literature.
Joanne, an admissions clerk, is now calling for parents and medics to pay attention to the signs of teenage cancer.
She said: “I felt abandoned by doctors and had nowhere to turn.
“The doctor said to her ‘Georgia you are looking very pale and I know what you 18-year-old girls are like for wanting to look like stick insects’.
“I was really taken aback because he hadn’t even spoken to her. I was quite shocked because he had prejudged her. He diagnosed her with dietary anaemia.
“After that we went to the GP and every time we went back it was ‘yes, she has severe anaemia.’
“She kept throwing up and couldn’t keep anything down. One day she said ‘mum, what can I eat that will taste nice on the way back up?’
“I know my children and it couldn’t have been further from the truth that she was trying to be a stick insect. She loved her food but was never overweight. She was healthy.”
Georgia, a student at Thomas Rotherham College, South Yorkshire, began feeling run down and tired in May 2014 and her eye swelled up every morning.
After her visit to the walk-in centre, further tests found Georgia was suffering from severe anaemia and she was prescribed iron tablets.
Yet the teenager, who worked part-time in the admin department at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, continued to vomit after eating. Despite repeated visits to her GP her condition deteriorated.
She lost two stone and even collapsed on the stairs before one doctor’s appointment.
Her mother told how at one point she returned home and cried because nobody would believe she was ill.
It was only after Georgia went to A&E at the Northern General Hospital in September 2014, that she was admitted and transferred to the Royal Hallamshire.
Doctors found she had cancer in her eye and ovaries and she also contracted meningitis – a rare side effect of cancer.
Joanne said: “We went to the doctors in June and we kept getting nowhere with GPs after that. She was wasting away before my eyes and I took her to A&E in the September and I said I wasn’t leaving until somebody helps me.”
Georgia was diagnosed on September 21, just two months later she passed away on November 11.
Joanne said: “I’m not here to say that they could have saved Georgia because it was so aggressive, but my main aim is that she was ignored so many times and it was all because she was a teenager and it has got to stop.
“We have our own Teenage Cancer Unit in Sheffield and that has got to mean that this is on the increase.
“If GPs are just going to ignore the warning signs because they are 13, 19 and 20 then it’s just wrong.”
Joanne paid tribute to her daughter, saying “I used to hear parents always say that their children look up to them but I looked up to her. She was incredible.”
The teenager met singer Paolo Nuntini just two weeks before her death and he gave her a plectrum which she was buried with.
Hundreds of mourner attended her funeral and now her mother plans to fundraise in her memory for the Teenage Cancer Unit.
She said: “It was a horrendous time for her. My hope now is that she didn’t die in vain.
“I want parents reading this to think if their daughter or son is experiencing these symptoms then stop think ‘yes, I need to go back to the doctors’ with my child.”