Keen athlete, 16, told to cut down on sugary treats before devastating…

A schoolgirl was told by doctors to cut out sweets and fizzy drinks just weeks before receiving a devastating diagnosis that changed her life.

Lyra Cassell’s mum Hayley said she was a “fit and healthy” teenager who had just “smashed her GCSEs” and was kept busy outside of school running five times a week with Liverpool Harriers and Athletic Club.

Her mum additional that “everything was going well for her” until the 16-year-old discovered a lump in her groin, according to the Liverpool Echo.

Hayley, 41, explained that the she initially put down her daughter’s persistent tiredness to the active and busy life she led.

She said: “[Lyra] works in Gino’s restaurant in town part-time on the reception and she also taught dance in Liverpool College to four-11 year-olds, so she was really busy and she was loving it.

“She was saying she was tired but we just put it down to working and going out with her friends.”

Hayley first suspected something was wrong when Lyra found a lump in her groin at the end of August and she phoned the doctors to ask for an appointment.

She said the lump was initially dismissed as being a hernia and she was told by a nurse that it could take a few months for Lyra to get a hospital appointment due to delays caused by coronavirus.

“She had a hernia as a baby so we thought it was nothing to worry about,” Hayley explained.

“Then we went for a walk in Garston Park and she went ‘I’ve got this lump on my neck.’

“It was on the side of her neck and it was quite big. I thought ‘that’s not right Lyra’ and I phoned the doctors again.”

After having a second appointment with a nurse, Lyra was referred for an appointment at Clatterbridge Centre, one of the UK’s leading cancer centres, and a few days later she had her bloods taken at her GP surgery.

Hayley said: “[The doctor] phoned me on the Tuesday morning to tell me she was anaemic and to stop giving her sweets and fizzy drinks.

“They said she’s not diabetic but her blood sugar levels are slightly high.”

Two weeks later, Lyra went for an appointment at the Clatterbridge Centre, where she underwent an ultrasound followed by a biopsy and further blood tests.

It was here on September 29 that she was told the devastating news, that she had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a kind of cancer that affects white blood cells which progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.

Lyra started chemotherapy the next day.

“Lyra’s first question was ‘will I lose my hair?'” Hayley said. “They explained to us that it will be a very difficult course of action of at the minimum two years.

“It feels like it’s someone else this has happened to – this doesn’t happen to us. It’s just horrendous.

“Two weeks ago I had a normal, and what we thought was a healthy teenager, ready to smash her A-levels and go out clubbing and do all the things we did as a 16-17 year old, and now everything is a aim wreck.”

Lyra is currently undergoing treatment at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and has recently been diagnosed with steroid-induced diabetes.

If Lyra hadn’t found the lump on her neck when she did, Hayley fears how long it would have been before she found out she had cancer.

Hayley is consequently keen to raise awareness and encourage others to get checked out at the first sign of symptoms.

In a bid to help the family during this time, Lyra’s running coach and family friend Jayne Teare has set up a Go Fund Me page.

In a message on the page, Jayne said: “Lyra’s rare love of life and people shines by with most people she meets.

“She is warm, funny, goofy, caring, determined and very kind. She and her family are terrified by what this new future holds and the upset it will have on Lyra and her loved ones.

“The journey will be long and difficult but we have to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Currently, life for Lyra is tough as she undergoes extensive chemotherapy and deals with the complications that this can cause. Any sustain or help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.”

If you would like to donate to the go fund me page click here.



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