Boy Diagnosed With Cancer After Tick Bite Coincidentally Led to Tests

A young boy was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer after being bitten by a tick.

While there was no connection between the tick bite and the cancer itself, the boy's mother told Newsweek that the timing was a "very lucky coincidence."

"It made me persist at getting his symptoms looked at," she said.

Jude Mellon-Jameson, who is now 3, began experiencing severe pain shortly after suffering the tick bite in the summer of 2021.

The boy, who lives with his family in Sheffield, England, complained of pain in his legs, and was struggling with walking, high temperatures and night sweats.

"He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming in pain," the boy's mother, Lucy Mellon-Jameson, 33, told ITV News.

After several trips to the ER, the boy was admitted to Sheffield Children's Hospital so that doctors could investigate further.

Scans revealed a tumor and the boy was eventually diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma that had already spread to other parts of the body.

Neuroblastoma is a disease that affects children, where cancer cells form in immature nerve cells called neuroblasts located in the adrenal glands, neck, chest or spinal cord.

This cancer usually begins in infancy and tends to be diagnosed before the age of 5. In rare cases, it forms before birth and is detected during an ultrasound of the baby.

While neuroblastoma is the most common cancer in infants, there are only about 700 to 800 new cases reported every year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

"We were initially shocked, it felt like in the short time it took for the doctors to tell us they had found a tumor that our world had been turned upside down," Lucy Mellon-Jameson told Newsweek.

"Everything moves very quickly and we just had to focus on every step as it came along, we could never look too far ahead because everything was too unpredictable," she said.

At the time of his diagnosis, doctors gave the boy a 40-50 percent chance of long-term survival.

"Long-term survival when you are 3 should not be looking at when you are 8 years old," the mother told ITV.

After the diagnosis, the 3-year-old spent 90 days in hospital undergoing chemotherapy and numerous procedures, including a surgery to remove his primary tumor and 10 blood transfusions.

"Jude has kept a smile on his face for most of his treatment, but it's been incredibly tough on him," his parents said in the description for a fundraising campaign.

"He's not gone a day without medication, he struggles with fatigue and regularly needs to be carried or use a chair to get about. His high dose chemotherapy left him incredibly weak and vulnerable, and Jude contracted an infection that required him to be on oxygen."

While the boy responded well to treatment, a relapse would mean his chances of survival would fall to around 5 percent.

He is currently undergoing radiotherapy and will begin immunotherapy at the end of March in the United Kingdom's publicly-funded National Health Service.

But in order to give him the best chance of survival, the family is trying to raise £350,000 (around $456,600) for a pioneering treatment available in the United States. At the time of writing, the family has raised more than £56,000.

"We want to give Jude the best chance of staying cancer-free and we feel like, if Jude is eligible, seeking further maintenance treatment is our best option," the parents said in the fundraiser. "He's barely started his life before cancer has tried to snatch it away from him, we do not want him to go through this again."

Lucy Mellon-Jameson told Newsweek that her son had been able to understand most of what has happened to him despite his tender age.

"Jude is a very switched on 3-year-old," she said. "It has been really important to make sure he gets the information he needs in a way that he will understand. When he first started chemotherapy he understood it as chemo being the good guys going after the bad guys that were in his body."

"He likes to know what's going on; he likes to know what machines are for and how they work. We have never kept anything from him," she said. "He does think that most people do this though and I think it will take a long time for him to understand that he has been through so much more than most people go through in a full 70-odd years, never mind 3!"

Jude Mellon-Jameson
An image of Jude Mellon-Jameson, 3, who has been diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Lucy Mellon-Jameson