Doctor’s mistake baby’s cancer as ‘acid reflux’ calling mum ‘overprotective’


When Jacquelyn Waggoner’s daughter began suffering with a cough, fever and constipation – she knew something was seriously wrong.

Tiny Paisley Afdhal, then five months, had always been a “calm” and healthy baby but her health was slowly beginning to deteriorate, The Sun reports.

Jacquelyn, 19, from Oregon, in the US, rushed her daughter to the hospital where doctors quickly dismissed her as an “overprotective first-time parent” and said Paisley just had “acid reflux” or “the flu”.

However, as Paisley continued to get more and more ill, Ms Waggoner battled medics to listen.

It took medics eight weeks to finally give Ms Waggoner the news she most feared – Paisley had a rare form of childhood cancer and needed urgent treatment.

With Paisley now on her second round of gruelling chemotherapy, Ms Waggoner is now sharing her story to urge other mums to “always trust their mother’s instincts”.

“I want other mums to be persistent and adamant if their baby isn’t well because you never know if it is life or death,” Ms Waggoner said.

Ms Waggoner’s ordeal began when Paisley began suffering with flu-like symptoms in September 2019.

The young mum and her partner, Chance Afdhal, 25, took her daughter to see the doctors where she was sent home and told it wasn’t anything to worry about.

Despite this, Paisley’s condition progressively got worse and Ms Waggoner says she visited the emergency department weekly for eight weeks but was repeatedly told it was acid reflux or the flu.

Then, in November 2019, things took a turn for the worst when an X-ray revealed excess fluid in Paisley’s right lung, and she was misdiagnosed with pneumonia.

She was blue-lighted over 400 miles away to a hospital in Washington or a CT scan that discovered neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children.

Ms Waggoner believes if she wasn’t persistent, Paisley, now seven months, would have died.

“I refused to leave the emergency room until she was properly examined and thankfully I did as my daughter was hours away from her last breath,” Ms Waggoner said.

“I was literally screaming for someone to examine her as we had been sent away seven times without doctors even touching her.

“But I knew something was wrong, she is a calm baby but on November 19 — nothing was soothing her and she was continuously screaming for hours on end.

“She was seen by several doctors before being misdiagnosed with acid reflux, pneumonia and flu-like symptoms.

“I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if she wasn’t blue-lighted to Spokane Sacred Heart hospital in Washington.

Ms Waggoner said she is heartbroken because if the cancer was caught sooner, they could have operated on her daughter.

“But now it is too late as the tumour is taking over her body,” she said.

Ms Waggoner said she knew something was wrong with her baby but “never in a million years” thought it would be cancer.

She felt angry and frustrated with the hospital for not taking her seriously.

Paisley was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma after doctors found a large mass around her spine and right side — which is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children.

Ms Waggoner was previously a babysitter and had looked after babies with the flu which is how she spotted “something more sinister” when Paisley became sick at just four-weeks-old.

She says that Paisley is still “happy” and strong despite her intense treatment.

“I try to keep my head above the water for my daughter – she brings me so much joy.”

“Both myself and her dad, Chance are heartbroken but we want to spend as much time with her as we can.

“We have set up a GoFundMe for help to cover the medical expenses which will cost £6110 ($A11,769).”

Her partner, a tyre service professional, is working as much as he can along with driving six hours to the chemo unit weekly.

“We hope other parents trust their gut feeling when it comes to their children.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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