“NOBODY deserves to lose their life at 19.” These are the haunting words of a devoted aunt whose teenage niece has died within weeks of being diagnosed with cancer.

Former Huntington School pupil Amelia Ellerby, 19, died on June 12 shortly after doctors discovered her upper body was riddled with cancer.

Her family are demanding answers from their GP surgery, Priory Medical Centre, Cornlands Road, after it took them almost a year to call Amelia in for a face-to-face appointment when she first found a 50p-sized lump in her back.

Claire Henshaw, Amelia’s aunt, said: “If she had been seen sooner when the cancer was only in one place it might have been removable.”

Amelia is survived by her mother Tanya.

The Northern Echo: Amelia with auntie Claire, cousin Amy and Nanna MandyAmelia with auntie Claire, cousin Amy and Nanna Mandy

Both Amelia’s GP surgery and the NHS Vale of York CCG, which looks after primary care in York, said they could not comment on individual cases but said the NHS website provided a wealth of information for patients on how to spot the signs of cancer and what to do if you are worried.

For the past four years, Amelia had been living with aunt Claire in Acomb.

Claire said Amelia first contacted the surgery in the spring of 2021 and then again a few weeks later. On neither occasion was she called in to see a GP in person, said Claire, but was prescribed antibiotics and referred for a CT scan, but warned the waiting list was six months.

It was only in the following spring, while still waiting for her CT scan, that Amelia was seen by a GP in person after her lump had grown. At this point, she was referred immediately for an x-ray and MRI.

These indicated that Amelia had masses in her lungs. Further scans revealed that cancer had spread to her stomach lining, liver and lymph nodes - the diagnosis was metastatic soft tissue sarcoma. Claire said: “The top half of her body was covered with it.”

In the middle of May, Amelia was told her cancer was incurable and given a couple of months to live. She died on June 12.

The Northern Echo: Amelia EllerbyAmelia Ellerby

Claire said Amelia coped with her terminal diagnosis with great courage - even going on to plan parts of her funeral.

The funeral will take place on Thursday, July 7, at York Crematorium at 1pm - and will have a superheroes theme, which was one of Amelia’s final wishes, said Claire. Amelia has also chosen some of the music, including I Will Survive and See You Again, which was played at the funeral of her father Mark, who died seven years ago.

Claire said Amelia was shocked and upset by the diagnosis, but “tried to stay positive for everybody else”. She added: “She accepted it. She said she was going to be back with her dad.”

She even managed to have a final holiday in a caravan shortly before she died, despite being in pain.

Amelia, who worked at Morrisons in Acomb, was a pet lover. At home with Claire, she had a dog Pixie, two tortoises, a lizard and a hamster.

Claire said she had a lot of friends, and loved to tell a story. “She was louder than loud! She always had a story to tell - and always came back home with a story. I feel lost without her. I am used to her being here every day.”

And Claire urged anyone who finds a suspicious lump to insist on seeing their doctor. She said: “Don’t wait. Demand to be seen. Don’t give up.”

A spokesperson for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which carries out scans, said: “Our sympathies are with Amelia’s family at this terribly sad time.

"The way appointments are allocated and prioritised for diagnostic procedures such as scans is dependent on the nature of the referral that we receive, either from a GP or a clinician within the hospital.

"If a referral is made to investigate a potential cancer, then this is fast-tracked and would be done quickly, usually within two weeks. We continued to receive fast-track referrals and maintain this service throughout the pandemic.

"Early detection and diagnosis of cancer is incredibly important and we would encourage anyone who has any concerns to contact their GP as soon as possible. We would also encourage Amelia’s family to contact us if they have any questions about the care she received.”

NHS website with advice on how to spot the signs of cancer and what to do if you are worried is here

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