HOLLYANN Prince was only 27 years old when she died from stage four kidney cancer in June.

At an age when most young women are settled in a career, looking for houses and discussing future wedding plans, Hollyann was facing months of gruelling treatment to stay alive.

Doctors discovered a 10cm tumour on her left kidney and diagnosed the then 24-year-old with stage three kidney cancer. She had exhibited symptoms for almost a year.

Now Hollyann’s mum Sandra wants others to know that young people are not immune to rarer form of cancers such as kidney cancer and is urging people to be persistent with their GP if they feel something is not right.

Her plea comes after Kidney Cancer UK’s autumn review found that half of patients were initially misdiagnosed.

Warrington Guardian:

Despite being the UK’s seventh most common cancer, the devastating ‘silent killer’ has often been mistaken for less serious conditions such as urine infections, kidney stones or respiratory problems.

Once diagnosed, around half of patients are already at the most advanced form of the disease where the prognosis is much worse.

Shortly before her diagnosis, Hollyann’s parents were in the process of buying a house in France.

They wanted to live close to their daughter during her treatment but Hollyann insisted they went ahead and she was able to visit the holiday home three times before she died.

Her parents divided their time between Lymm and France before moving into the flat Hollyann shared with her boyfriend to care for her.

Sandra said: “I kept thinking ‘what have we done by moving away’ but it gave Hollyann a better quality of life.

“She could live independently with her boyfriend like any other couple would.”

In the spring of 2015, Hollyann, a former Bridgewater High School pupil, began to complain of tiredness but her family put it down to the strong medication she had been taking for arthritis in her knee over Christmas.

After waking up one night with excruciating pain in her left side and passing blood in her urine, Hollyann was told to go to the doctors the next day after being refused an ambulance.

She was diagnosed with a water infection and prescribed antibiotics but Sandra knew there was too much blood in her urine for that to be the case.

Hollyann’s family insisted that a scan was needed and it was then that a mass was discovered.

They had felt reassured by the consultant that it was unlikely to be anything serious as Hollyann was so young but the scan undertaken after keyhole surgery revealed the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.

In her spare time Hollyann, from Bewsey, had worked closely with medical students at the University of Liverpool and at Clatterbridge to establish important communication links needed between doctors and patients.

But Sandra believes her daughter slipped through the net and was not given appropriate end of life care because of her young age and lack of communication between medical teams.

Warrington Guardian:

“We keep thinking back as to what could have caused her cancer, we were told that it is mainly men in their 60s who get kidney cancer and Hollyann found there wasn’t a great deal of support for young people,” she said.

“She really wanted to push for groups that support young people with the illness and often felt she wasn’t taken seriously because of her age.”

Hollyann was placed on a clinical trial which involved immunotherapy treatment and at first this was successful. But the cancer proved too strong for the drugs to continue to work.

Kidney Cancer UK is calling for the Government to support its research into a national kidney cancer screening programme, to ensure rapid diagnosis and prompt effective treatment, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for patients

Sandra added: “I’m really pleased that things are moving forward in this way and hopefully more people can be aware of the symptoms with the campaigning by Kidney Cancer UK.

“In Hollyann’s words ‘be aware that this can happen to anyone, if you notice any changes go and see your GP and do not be fobbed off’.

“Time is of the essence, you do have a chance with kidney cancer if it is spotted early and contained within the kidney. Hollyann wasn’t lucky.

“Something has to come of her passing, she was too young and beautiful, she suffered too much.

“If we can help just one other family so they don’t have to watch their young one suffer, we will know she did not die in vain.”

Symptoms of kidney cancer:

  • Blood in the urine, also called haematuria
  • Persistent low back pain or pain in the side between the ribs and hipbone
  • A lump or mass in the area of the kidneys
  • Abnormal red blood cell counts
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Thickening of the blood (polycythaemia)
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss/loss of appetite
  • Running a persistent temperature and sweating heavily, especially at night
  •  For more information visit Kidney Cancer UK at kcuk.org.uk