A FAMILY have said their 19-year-old daughter might still be alive if doctors had taken her symptoms seriously.
Amelia Ellerbee, 19, waited more than a year to see a GP before discovering she was pregnant cancer.
The bright teenager was admitted to the emergency room and a scan revealed she had stage four cancer which had spread “to her entire upper body”.
She died weeks after being diagnosed in June this year, her family said.
Her aunt Claire Handshaw, 37, who has looked after Amelia since she was 15, said doctors had “let her niece down”.
She said: “I feel the doctors have let Amelia down by not taking it seriously.
“I believe that a lesson should be learned so that other people do not experience the same thing.
“It was devastating because even though she was my niece, she was like a daughter because she lived with me. We were very close.
“It was like losing a child. And this probably shouldn’t have happened.
“I don’t think they took it seriously at all. I think if he had been taken earlier, things would have been different.”
Amelia was found lump of 50p per waist last February.
Claire, team manager at Morrisons, from York, said: “You couldn’t see the lump, you could just feel it inside.”
Claire claims the teenager tried to book an appointment at her surgery – the Priory Medical Center in York.
But I’ve just been told that she’s been put on a waiting list for testing.
Claire said: “They called her and asked her over the phone how big the bump was.
“Then they told her they would refer her for a test but it could take up to six months because of the Covid there is a bit of a wait.
“After that, about six weeks later, she contacted them again and they just put her on antibiotics without even seeing her.”
Claire claims that although Amelia phoned her local branch about the problem every six weeks, she was repeatedly told to wait more than a year for scans.
She later said Amelia was so worried she even called an ambulance but was told she was “wasting her time” if she went to hospital.
Claire said: “Eventually at some point she did call 111 and they sent an ambulance to her – the paramedics came.
“But even they told her that if she went to the hospital, she would lose time and be sent home, so she didn’t go.”
Claire said Amelia eventually saw a GP in person in March this year, a year after finding the lump.
The doctor found a 10cm (4in) by 3cm (1in) lump on Amelia’s lower back.
No one deserves to lose their life at this age. They didn’t live their lives, really.
Claire said: “After she went to the doctor her pain started to get worse. So we thought it was from pushing and poking.
“Then a couple of weeks after that it got really big and was the size of a hand sticking out of her back. Overnight, it went from a small lump to a massive one.
“The pain got worse so we had to go to A&E for a CT scan and then she was referred to Leeds Infirmary where we confirmed the news.”
Doctors told Amelia that she had stage 4 terminal cancer diagnosed with metastatic soft tissue sarcoma.
Soft tissue sarcomas can affect blood vessels, deep skin tissues, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
They can occur at any age, with 4,300 people diagnosed each year in the UK, but are most common in older people.
A scan initially found a mass in Amelia’s lung, and later tests revealed the cancer had spread to her stomach lining, liver and lymph nodes.
Claire said: “It was around May 18 when we were told she had a couple of months to live.
“And then at the end of May she had another scan and they said because of how fast things were going, we’re now looking at weeks instead of months.”
She added: “Amelia was upset and angry. Obviously, we started out thinking the news would be bad, but we really didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was.
“It wasn’t until she went to Leeds that they said it wasn’t just in her lungs and back – it was basically all over her upper body.
“Nobody deserves to lose their life at that age. They really haven’t lived their lives.”
Amelia died on June 12 this year, just weeks after doctors gave her the devastating news that her diagnosis was terminal.
Amelia’s GP and NHS Vale of York CCG, which handles primary care in York, said they could not comment on individual cases.
But a spokesman for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our condolences go out to Amelia’s family at this terribly sad time.
“The way appointments and priorities are assigned for diagnostic procedures such as scans depends on the nature of the referral we receive from either a GP or a clinician in the hospital.
“If a referral is made to investigate a potential cancer, it is fast-tracked and will be done quickly, usually within two weeks.
“We have continued to receive prompt referrals and support this service throughout the pandemic.
“Early detection and diagnosis of cancer is incredibly important and we encourage anyone with any concerns to contact their GP as soon as possible.
“We also encourage Amelia’s family to contact us if they have any questions about the help she has been receiving.”