A FAMILY devastated by the death of a 17-year-old girl has spoken out after it emerged she had an undiagnosed form of blood cancer.

Molly Bower Patterson, from Sherburn Hill, near Durham, died in October after falling ill on holiday in Spain.

Though the teenager was told by a doctor she had mumps, it has emerged since her death that she had a form of leukaemia.

Her family is now trying to raise awareness about undiagnosed diseases and the role of blood testing.

Danielle Patterson, Molly's mother, said she appeared to be fit and healthy. She said: "We had no idea. It's the last thing you expect for it to be a kind of cancer.

"All of her lymph nodes had swollen up which is why they thought it was mumps but the leukaemia was that aggressive there was nothing they could have done.

"We don't want people to suffer what we are going through. You wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy."

The Northern Echo:

The petition started by Molly's family

She has started an online petition calling for mandatory blood testing for people who make repeated trips to see their doctors with recurring symptoms.

Molly had suffered from repeated bouts of tonsillitis throughout her life and had last visited her GP about two weeks before her death.

More than 3,000 people have so far signed the petition, with many leaving messages of support for the family of the popular teenager, who had just started studying a course in travel and tourism and had dreams of becoming a Butlins redcoat.

Ms Bower said a coroner's report had revealed Molly had leukaemia. Further tests are being done to establish what type of the disease she had.

Ms Bower added: "If your child, or anyone, goes to the doctor with the same symptoms in a short period and it hasn't resolved, blood tests should be mandatory to rule out any type of cancer.

"If this had been in place for Molly maybe it could have saved her life."

Phil Reynolds, policy manager at Bloodwise, which funds research into blood cancer, said while it is not calling for mandatory blood tests, the charity would like to see them used more often.

He said: "More cases of blood cancer, which includes leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, are diagnosed in A&E than any other common cancer, which can have an impact on chances of survival.

"While a blood test will not be able to identify all types of blood cancer, in many cases it can indicate whether something is seriously wrong and if more tests are needed. Blood tests should be used far more often to help reduce delays to diagnosis if people are displaying signs of blood cancer that can't be explained."