Academy player, 14, with brain tumour was told he was on the spectrum

Academy player, 14, with brain tumour was told he was on the spectrum

A 14-year-old West Ham academy player who was diagnosed with a brain tumour was mistreated by doctors for eight months and told he was ‘on the spectrum’ despite hearing ‘awful’ voices in his head.

Oscar Ray Fairs, who has been described by West Ham legend Mark Noble as ‘invincible’ and ‘heroic’, underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour on August 31 last year after losing the ability to walk and talk.

For several months before he showed strange panic attack symptoms and told his mother Natalie there was ‘something in my head’ that was telling him to do ‘awful things’.

However, despite undergoing blood tests with doctors, he was routinely told that he just had ‘hypothetical anxiety’ and ‘was on the spectrum’.

Now, Mrs Fairs is imploring there to be an equal level of education about brain tumour symptoms, similar to how there is with breast and prostate cancer, as not only could it have helped her son, it could also help save another child’s life.

Natalie Fairs, pictured right, has said there needs to be greater education about the symptoms of brain tumours after her son was misdiagnosed for eight months

Oscar Fairs has been at West Ham’s academy since he age of six and one day dreams of becoming a professional goalkeeper

The 14-year-old was diagnosed with a 7cm cancerous brain tumour after the right hand side of his body shut down

Asked about the lack of awareness regarding the symptoms of a tumour, the emotional literacy support assistant told MailOnline: ‘If you’ve got prostrate cancer or breast cancer or even a blood clot or stroke, everybody knows the steps to check yourself.

‘With a brain tumour, there has been nothing in my 40 years of life, not a poster, not a step-by-step of how to check, about the symptoms of a brain tumour. Why is this not being advertised on the telly like breast cancer symptoms are?’

Despite regular nausea, violent headaches and extreme sensitivity to light, Mrs Fairs said it took eight months for her son to even receive an MRI scan.

‘I remember, we went into the hospital and Oscar was screaming because of the pain in his head, he couldn’t keep his eyes open because the light was so painful and he was in a wheelchair.

‘We went to the GP at our local hospital and the paediatrician said to me “I’ve been in this industry for 10 years, that is a migraine. This is not a life or death situation, just give him this nasal spray, keep him off his phone and put him in a dark room for four days and nurture him,”

‘I went straight home and just cried my eyes out. I’ve reported her since. It took for him to lose the function in the right side of his body to finally get an MRI scan which is when we were told he had a tumour.

A look at the 7cm cancerous tumour that was found in Oscar’s brain after an MRI scan

Eight months before he was diagnosed, Oscar said he heard ‘horrible voices inside his head’ which turned out to be a tumour 

Oscar pictured before he is about to go into surgery with his special West Ham themed colours

The Fairs family were invited to watch the Hammers by Mark Noble, pictured centre, and Oscar served as a mascot

‘He didn’t even have a phone at this point as he had smashed them so many times because the nerves and tumour was suffocating his nervous system on the right side of his body. 

‘The surgeons and all the doctors are absolutely brilliant, they’re saving my son’s life. But there’s not enough knowledge amongst GPs about the symptoms of a brain tumour. 

‘Nobody even considered swaying us towards getting an MRI. They just kept talking about his mental health and didn’t connect how it could be a physical problem too.

‘If they had given him a scan earlier, at any point before that eight months, it could have made a huge difference in helping my son’s condition. Now, he’s been through seven surgeries and has life-long trauma.’ 

Cameron Miller, Director of Policy and Strategy at The Brain Tumour Charity said: ‘Faster diagnosis has lots of benefits for patients, so we would welcome the NHS ensuring that all General Practitioners can access training on the signs and symptoms of a brain tumour.

‘We would also encourage the public to engage with our Better Safe Than Tumour resources to familiarise themselves with symptoms. 

Oscar pictured in his West Ham academy training kit alongside Hammers legend Noble

The Fairs family, who have said they are amazed by Oscar’s bravery, embrace in a group hug

Mrs Fairs said her son experienced severe headaches, nausea and numbness in the right side of his body for months before being told he had a cancerous tumour in his brain 

Draped in his favourite West Ham colours, Oscar leaves Great Ormond Street Hospital with a smile on his face

Oscar was recently given much more positive news that the cancerous tumour was shrinking

Forever grateful of West Ham United showing their awareness , support and love to our precious hammer HERO of a warrior ⚒️💛⚒️#COYI #YNWA

#wereallinthistogether #togetherwebeatcancer @WestHam @SkySportsNews @SkyNewsBreak @itvnews @itvfootball @BBCBreaking @BBCR1…

— 🎗️ Our super hero Oscars journey 🎗️ (@superoscarfairs) December 7, 2023

‘While many of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, you know your body and you know your child, and so if you or they have two or more of these symptoms and that is unusual for you, it is essential that you visit your GP to discuss what it could be.’ 

Following his cancer diagnosis, Oscar has been in and out hospital but recently he was selected to be a mascot during West Ham’s match against and he walked out alongside fellow goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. 

Speaking about the day, Mrs Fairs said: ‘I am forever grateful of West Ham United showing their awareness, support and love to our precious hammer hero of a warrior.’ 

The path ahead remains unclear for Oscar but this week, positive MRI results showed that there was still ongoing shrinkage to the tumour and cancer.

Mrs Fairs added: ‘The most important news is we are on the right track of kicking cancer’s arse! We are on track for more radiation in June and July.’

CancerAlphonse AreolaNHS


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