'My GP thought I was neurotic': Sister's cancer battle inspires mother to push for medical tests for 'lethargic' toddler... and was told he had leukaemia just weeks later

  • Kelly Carr, 23, pushed for tests for MJ after her sister Natasha's diagnosis
  • Natasha was told she had breast cancer in November 
  • Kelly, a single mother, wanted MJ to be tested for cancer after 'bruising'
  • However, claims doctors said she was 'overreacting'
  • Natasha pushed for tests and MJ, 3, was diagnosed with leukaemia  

A mother has said her sister's cancer diagnosis saved her son's life.

Kelly Carr, 23, from Bolton, has revealed how her sister Natasha, 29, was told she had breast cancer in November. And when Kelly's three-year-old son MJ became lethargic with bruises on his legs just weeks later, she insisted he had tests for cancer.

MJ was diagnosed with leukaemia that day. And Kelly insists Natasha's illness helped to save her son. Kelly, who is a single parent, said: 'Because Natasha's cancer was uppermost in my mind, I insisted on MJ having tests for cancer.

Kelly Carr, 23 (middle), was devastated when her sister Natasha, 29 (right) and her three-year-old toddler, MJ (left), were diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other

Kelly Carr, 23 (middle), was devastated when her sister Natasha, 29 (right) and her three-year-old toddler, MJ (left), were diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other

The single mum from Bolton has described how her sister saved her son's life (left in hospital)

The single mum from Bolton has described how her sister saved her son's life (left in hospital)

Two months after Natasha was diagnosed, Kelly noticed a change in MJ
The boy had just turned two

Two months after Natasha was diagnosed, Kelly noticed a change in MJ, who had just turned two. Pictured left and right having treatment in hospital after his diagnosis 

'My GP thought I was neurotic. I actually bumped into Natasha in the doctor's waiting room - and she told me to get MJ tested for leukaemia.

'She wouldn't leave until the tests were sorted out.'

MJ was in fact diagnosed with leukaemia later that day, and Kelly believes Natasha has saved his life.

Kelly said: 'If it wasn't for Natasha I would never have pushed for tests. I wouldn't have thought it was cancer.

'As it was, MJ was diagnosed early and he has now made a good recovery - all thanks to Natasha.'

Fighting cancer together has brought Natasha and her nephew closer than ever - especially since she may now never have children of her own.

Natasha said: 'I've been told my treatment may leave me infertile so I know how lucky I am to have MJ.

Sister Natasha, who has breast cancer, pushed for MJ to be tested for leukaemia
MJ became lethargic and developed bruises

Sister Natasha, who has breast cancer (pictured right, left and right), pushed for MJ (pictured left, left and right) to be tested for leukaemia after he became lethargic and developed bruises

'If it wasn't for Natasha I would never have pushed for tests': Kelly (left) is grateful to her older sister (right)

'If it wasn't for Natasha I would never have pushed for tests': Kelly (left) is grateful to her older sister (right)

'We got a lot of strength from each other'
The pair were brought closer together as they struggled through their illnesses

'We got a lot of strength from each other': The pair were brought closer together as they struggled through their illnesses

'We helped each other through our treatment. Neither of us liked having a bald head - but when I showed MJ mine, he suddenly started showing his off too!

'We got a lot of strength from each other.'

Natasha, 29, was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer in November 2013, after she found a lump in each breast. She had chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

Natasha said: 'I found a lump in my left breast first, but during my chemo I found another lump on my right side, and that was cancer too.'

Incredibly the two cancers were not related.

But far more upsetting than her cancer diagnosis, was the news that she may never be able to have children.

She said: 'Me and my partner, James, were planning a baby before I was diagnosed, so it was a big blow. And of course there was a danger that I would be left infertile by the treatment.

'I'm so close to my nephew, MJ, and when I was ill, my bond with him became even stronger.

'When my hair dropped out, I was heartbroken, and I bought a wig. I wouldn't show anyone my bald head. 

Happier times: Sister Natasha poses with her nephew MJ, when he was just born, before the cancer diagnosis

Happier times: Sister Natasha poses with her nephew MJ, when he was just born, before the cancer diagnosis

Sister Natasha asked Kelly to pursue blood tests when MJ began to exhibit changes
MJ was diagnosed with a form of childhood leukaemia

Sister Natasha asked Kelly to pursue blood tests, and MJ was diagnosed with a form of childhood leukaemia

Natasha with MJ: The 29-year-old may never be able to have her own children following her illness 

Natasha with MJ: The 29-year-old may never be able to have her own children following her illness 

'But then, MJ lost his hair too, and he was upset. So I whipped off my wig and he was thrilled, because he wasn't the only one without hair.

'He helped me face my hair loss head on, and so we were a big support for each other. It's made us so close. We say I'm his mummy number two.'

Two months after Natasha was diagnosed, Kelly noticed a change in MJ, who had just turned two years old.

She said: 'He'd always been in a good routine and slept well, but he became unsettled and wasn't eating or sleeping. She then noticed bruises on his legs and saw her GP.

Kelly said: 'Cancer was uppermost in my mind, because of Natasha, and I asked them to test him for leukaemia. The doctor looked at me like I was mad and sent me home with anti-biotics.'

She returned to the doctor when MJ did not get any better- and bumped into Natasha in the waiting room, who also had an appointment.

Kelly said: 'Natasha told me to insist on blood tests. She was really worried. 

Natasha, 29, had chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and reconstruction after being diagnosed with two types of breast cancer in November 2013

Natasha, 29, had chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and reconstruction after being diagnosed with two types of breast cancer in November 2013

'But again, the doctor thought I was over-reacting and thinking the worst, but booked me in for tests the following week.'

But a few days later, MJ began limping. Kelly returned to her GP and pleaded for him to be tested for leukaemia.

Kelly said: 'The doctor agreed to send me to hospital, to put my mind at rest.'

Later that day, MJ was diagnosed with ALL, a type of childhood leukaemia. He began immediate treatment.

Kelly said: 'I was in floods of tears and the first person I called was Natasha. She came straight to the hospital.

'She had her own health problems, but she put them to one side. She was there for us both.' 

Natasha and MJ helped each other through their treatments and were a major source of support 

Natasha and MJ helped each other through their treatments and were a major source of support 

Doctors warned Natasha not to spend time in the hospital, because her own immune system was so fragile.

She said: 'I knew I was taking a risk, but I had to be there for Kelly and MJ. I did pick up a chest infection, but I was determined to fight it.' 

MJ remained in hospital for two months, receiving treatment, during which his hair fell out.

Kelly said: 'He had long thick hair, and he loved to curl it round his fingers. He was so upset when it dropped out.'

By now, Natasha had also lost her hair and was wearing a wig.

Natasha said: 'I showed MJ my bald head and his face lit up, so I knew my wig had to go!

'He did me a favour because I had to face it head on.'

Whilst Natasha made good progress, MJ picked up a serious infection and was put into isolation. Kelly was warned he might not survive. 

There were times when Kelly was worried that her two-year-old son might not survive
'MJ was losing weight fast, he couldn't eat or walk': Kelly feared for her son's health

 There were times when Kelly was worried that her three-year-old son might not survive

Kelly says she is grateful to her sister Natasha as MJ was diagnosed early 

Kelly says she is grateful to her sister Natasha as MJ was diagnosed early 

She said: 'MJ was losing weight fast, he couldn't eat or walk. My mum and other relatives were so convinced he would die, that they couldn't bear to visit.

'But through it all, Natasha remained so positive. She kept us going.'

When MJ came home, Kelly was responsible for giving all his medication.

She said: 'MJ hated all the medicine and he really resented me. It was very hard but I had to do it for him.'

Now, both Natasha and MJ are over the worst of their illness, and looking forward to the future.

Natasha was given the all-clear in July this year. MJ has finished all his treatment. They will both be monitored for the next five years.

Kelly said: 'We've had a roller-coaster year, but it has brought Natasha and MJ closer than ever before.'

Natasha said: 'I don't know if I'll be able to have children of my own in the future. But whatever happens, I will always share an extra-special bond with MJ.'