3-year-old Summer Smith has a rare childhood cancer. Picture: Tara Croser.
3-year-old Summer Smith has a rare childhood cancer. Picture: Tara Croser.

Terrifying moment girl, 3, ‘started throwing up blood

LITTLE Summer Smith was falsely diagnosed with asthma and tonsillitis for almost a year before one terrifying moment revealed the true nature of her illness.

The three-year-old was having dinner just before Christmas when her mother, April Cunningham, lived her worst nightmare.

"I was feeding Summer her dinner and she wasn't swallowing her food. Suddenly she started throwing up and all this blood rushed into my hands," the 29-year-old told The Courier-Mail.

After being rushed to Queensland Children's Hospital, Summer was put in an induced coma for six days before doctors delivered the painful news on Christmas Eve that she had rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that forms in muscle tissue.

Ms Cunningham said she felt helpless after fighting for almost a year to find out what was wrong with Summer.

"I rely on medical professionals, and I thought something wasn't right. I felt so helpless," she said.

"Her weight dropped since October and her speech altered, but her doctors kept sending me home."

Family, friends and strangers all rallied behind Ms Cunningham, offering free accommodation with Childhood Cancer Support, and even hosting a music festival, Sounds of Summer.

Ms Cunningham said having that support and someone to talk to was vital.

 

April Cunningham said she felt helpless after fighting for almost a year to find out what was wrong with Summer. Picture: Tara Croser
April Cunningham said she felt helpless after fighting for almost a year to find out what was wrong with Summer. Picture: Tara Croser

Cancer Council Queensland said Summer's diagnosis was very rare - only 23 children are diagnosed annually in Australia - but her chances of survival are significant.

"The five-year survival rate is about 76 per cent," chief executive Chris McMillan said.

Friends and family have created a GoFundMe page - Support Summer's Fight Against Cancer - to help with the costs of weekly chemotherapy and to sustain Ms Cunningham as a full-time carer.



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