Emerara Kennedy, 4, dies after 10 month cancer battle, misdiagnosed as UTI

The devastated father of a four-year-old girl who died last week of a rare cancer is calling for an overhaul of the state’s health care system after she was misdiagnosed for months.

Jamie Lewis is still in shock over the loss of her daughter Emerara Kennedy on September 20.

“I keep thinking he’s still here; I can’t believe it,” she told NCA NewsWire.

Emerara and her mother went back and forth to Maryborough Hospital on the Fraser Coast for four months and were repeatedly told that she had nothing but a urinary tract infection.

By November, Emerara’s health had seriously worsened.

Mr. Lewis got the phone call no parent wants to get: Emerara had a stage four neuroblastoma.

Mr. Lewis, who had been working in the Mackay mines, quit his job and flew to Hervey Bay to be with Emerara while she began chemotherapy.

Emerara’s mother had watched her bright, smiling four-year-old son lose weight and become more distressed by the pain.

In November, Emerara’s mother, Stevee Kennedy, finally broke down and refused to leave the hospital before doctors ran more tests.

That’s when a biopsy revealed that Emerara had terminal cancer.

A brave and warrior girl

Before her diagnosis, Lewis said people always said Emerara “had been here before.”

“She was such an old soul, so resourceful and so smart,” he said.

Emerara loved ballet, learned to ride a bike, and would sometimes sit on her dad’s lap while he pretended to drive his truck.

“She made me the person I am today and the father I am today,” he said.

Even after his cancer diagnosis, when he was in excruciating pain, he said he would never stop smiling.

“She was so brave, a warrior,” Lewis said.

A struggling regional health system

Emerara’s parents believe that Queensland’s regional health care system is under-resourced and inadequately equipped to treat specialist diagnoses like their daughter’s.

“We have some family friends who are doctors, who said that’s the way it is,” Lewis said.

“All the best doctors are sent to the cities because there they will be able to cure more people and save more lives.”

Lewis said he had met countless families on the oncology ward at Hervey Bay who had experienced similar misdiagnoses.

“What happens is that they need more training and more specialist doctors to be able to detect a problem before it’s too late,” he said.

His advice to other parents.

Lewis said too many months went by where health care staff ignored Emerara’s pain and her mother’s insistence that something was wrong.

“I think people are intimidated by the health system,” he said.

“You know your son better than anyone and you have to push to make sure his pain is treated seriously.

“We need to start listening to parents and more needs to be done.”

A Go Fund Me has already raised more than $24,000 to help Emerara’s family cover the costs of her medical care and funeral.

The family is moving forward with a fundraising event this Saturday, which was originally scheduled to help cover the costs of Emerara’s ongoing treatment and make her final days more comfortable.

“I wanted to be able to tell you, anything you want to do, yeah, we can go and do it,” Lewis said.

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