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Brave Leah from Risby thanks dentist for 'saving her life'




A nine-year-old schoolgirl has thanked her dentist for ‘saving her life’.

Leah Read had been feeling ill for just three weeks when she visited Guildhall Dental Surgery in July.

The Risby CEVC pupil had been feeling increasingly tired, and had been suffering a constant ache in the left side of her face.

Leah Read with mum Abbey Hawes before she was taken into hospital. Picture submitted
Leah Read with mum Abbey Hawes before she was taken into hospital. Picture submitted

At first doctors thought she had just been suffering from anxiety at the thought of going back to school and another dentist thought she just had ‘crowded teeth’.

But after repeated calls by mum Abbey Hawes, 30, to the NHS 111 line she decided to book a private appointment at the Bury St Edmunds surgery after being advised it could be an abscess.

“Jaina, the dentist, looked concerned straight away,” said Miss Hawes, a child care care practitioner.

Dr Jaina Shah has stayed in touch with the brave youngster. Picture courtesy of Guildhall Dental
Dr Jaina Shah has stayed in touch with the brave youngster. Picture courtesy of Guildhall Dental

“She said you need to take her to Addenbrooke’s, you need to go today, and gave me a letter to take with me.”

At the hospital, Leah was diagnosed with an especially aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt Lymphoma, which spreads quickly. She has been in hospital ever since, needing six months of intense chemotherapy.

“When they told me what it was I broke down into tears,” Miss Hawes.

“My fit and healthy baby girl had cancer when only three weeks before we were running around having water balloon fights, baking cakes and splashing in the paddling pool with her brother and sister.

“I was in complete shock, I was terrified, especially when Leah asked: Mummy do I have cancer? Am I going to die?”

According to doctors, Burkit Lymphoma is very responsive to chemotherapy, with up to a 94 per cent survival rate in children.

“We are now three months in. Leah has had every side effect of the chemo possible, with her weight falling to just over 3st,” said Miss Hawes.

“She misses her brother and sister terribly, who can’t visit because of Covid restrictions. Only me and her dad Oliver are allowed.

"None of us can believe this has all happened so quickly.

“We are so grateful to Jaina. She has been in regular contact with us and says she is just doing her job. Leah wants to say: Thank you Jaina for saving me.”

Dr Jania Shah, said: “I was pleased to be able to get her where she should be seen. I know she will get better and look forward to seeing her soon for some ice cream.”

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