Teen dies from same cancer as her dad after her symptoms were dismissed as 'grief'

Photo: Linda Jones / Facebook
Photo: Linda Jones / Facebook 

A teenager died from the exact same type of cancer as her father, after doctors allegedly dismissed her symptoms as those of grief over her dad's death.

Just 19 months after her father Paul died from glioblastoma - an aggressive brain cancer - 15-year-old Alana Finlayson succumbed to the same illness, leaving mum Linda Jones distraught that her daughter's symptoms were not taken seriously.

Alana, from Glasgow, Scotland, pleaded with her mum before she died, "...please tell my story so this can never happen to anyone else."

Ms Jones, 51, is now honouring her daughters wish, sharing the story of how doctors failed Alana.

"She was in their care for a year and they let her down. It ripped my heart out. We were dismissed time and time again," she told the Daily Record.

In October 2017, Ms Jones observed changes in her daughter's attitude and behaviour but thought the was acting out after her father's death three weeks prior.

"I don't know if I missed symptoms in Alana because I was so wrapped up in Paul's illness but I don't think so," she explained.

Of the change in Alana's behaviour, Ms Jones said, "I thought it was the grief because she was a good girl. But she started having mood swings and hated everybody."

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Alana began to experience pain in her legs but it was attributed to growing pains by her GP.

The in February 2018, Linda was called to Alana's school to pick her up as she had severe pain in her hip. 

A series of x-rays at the hospital tuned up nothing.

"Cancerous tumours don't show up on X-rays. Alana was [in pain] all night. I took her back up the next day."

The Sun reported, "This time, a doctor suggested her jeans were too tight and asked Alana if she felt safe at home."

"I came home in absolute pieces," recalled Ms Jones.

"Alana was begging them for help. She was offered a grief counsellor."

She explained, "All they heard was she has just lost her daddy. By March she was losing weight and couldn't see properly. She had head pain, neck pain and severe nausea. She had gone from a size 10 to a size six in a month.

A trip to the optometrist revealed Alana now had "inflammation around her optic nerves."

A CT scan, MRI, and lumbar puncture resulted in a diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial ­hypertension – a type of brain pressure. A pressure that a brain tumour can cause.

A shunt only momentarily relieved the pressure, but it came back several times. The family was told that it wasn't cancer and that, "This is nothing like what your dad had." They felt reassured.

A biopsy on her brain was "inconclusive" and no further biopsies were ordered.

In February 2019 - after the leg pain returned - the decision was made to move the shunt from her brain to her spine. It was then that an MRI revealed that her spine was "riddled with cancer."

"She had a spinal tumour," said Ms Jones. "Most of her vertebrae were black holes."

"The tumour was wrapped round her nerves and there were other tumours, including one in her hip bone – the original source of her pain a year before."

Alana also had tumours in her brain - tumours that tests revealed were glioblastoma, the very same cancer as her dad Paul.

Ms Jones said that oncology was never consulted, even though doctors knew of the family history.

"Alana sat with her head in her hands repeating over and over, 'I am going to die, I am going to die. I am dying and there is nothing they can do'," recalled Ms Jones.

Alana died in May 2019 with her mother by her side whispering, "You are locked in my heart forever."

A spokesperson for the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board told MailOnline: "We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Alana Finlayson.

"This was a tragic and highly unusual situation. Despite being extensively reviewed by a team of UK-wide multidisciplinary experts, due to the rarity of the condition, specialists were unable to diagnose Alana's glioblastoma until 2019.

"We would be very keen to meet with Alana's family to answer any questions they might have regarding this case, and can confirm someone will be in touch."

Calls for an investigation into the tragedy are being received by authorities.