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Young dad, 23, died after visit to opticians with blurry vision led to devastating diagnosis


A young dad has died aged 23 after a visit to the optician revealed a devastating cancer diagnosis. James Burrows was only 20-years-old when he was told he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2019.

For the last three years, the dad-of-one has been in out and of the Christie Hospital in Manchester and has undergone various courses of chemotherapy, as doctors battled to save him. Tragically James, from Blackburn, who is father to six-year-old son Leon, passed away in early June surrounded by his family at home, Lancs Live reports.

Speaking of her brother’s heartbreaking illness, his sister Amanda Catterall said James had first began noticing bruises on his legs, before suffering with blurry vision in the months before his diagnosis.

READ MORE:Dame Deborah James bids emotional goodbye to brother

“James started getting rashes and bruises on his legs, which we later found out were due to the low platelets but we thought it was just him knocking himself on a night out or something,” she said.

“He also got blurry vision, so went to the opticians who said he had some blood clots behind his eyes. He went to his GP who said he needed blood tests, but with his age, this wasn’t done for another few days before our mum actually physically took him for them.

“After the tests, an ambulance arrived for James after finding out his blood count was dangerously low and he was blue-lighted to the specialist unit in Blackpool hospital. We think they were thinking leukaemia as early as that but couldn’t be sure.”



James Burrows

James was treated at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, which Amanda describes as “his best shot at treatment.” The young dad underwent intense chemotherapy treatment in the form of IVs and oral administration.

During this first year, James responded well to the treatment and was sent home, with visits to the hospital becoming less frequent.

Amanda, 34, said: “James was able to go to the hospital only a few times a month as opposed to all the time so it was getting better and he was able to take some of the course of his chemotherapy at home through tablets.

“It seemed like he was starting a normal life again. Honestly, if you didn’t know he had cancer then you wouldn’t have guessed. He was out and about and seeing friends.”

However, it was towards the end of 2020 that things started to take a turn for the worse, as James contracted a lung infection and became severely unwell. He was sent to intensive care and the family were told to prepare for the worst.

“He was doing well and then got an infection and we were told the worst might happen,” Amanda said. “However, he got better again for a short period until around December last year and January this year.

“The symptoms started, like the ones he had at the very start – fatigue, aching bones, a lot of pain, sleeping all the time. The cancer seemed to return in full force and he needed more than chemotherapy as his body couldn’t take anymore of it.

“We started this therapy where they harvested his blood to be sent to a lab in America, where he’d then have it back and it would be able to fight off the illness. However, after it was harvested he relapsed and we were faced with two options, either have him undergo chemotherapy which would surely kill him or have him undergo a transplant which may kill him instantly.”

Faced with an agonising decision, James’ mother, Amanda and other sister Debbie eventually decided to bring James home on May 17, where he would be comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.

James passed away on June 4. His funeral took place last Wednesday (15 June) but it was fairly expensive due to the young father having no plan in place.

Now, the family are hoping to raise money in his memory in order to fund a memorial bench. Amanda said: “We are hoping to get a bench for him so that family and friends can pay their respects. We think we need to get a bench that is made out of granite due to rules at Blackburn Cemetery, which is a lot more expensive.

“Having a quick look, it may cost us around £1,500-2,000. We’ll also need to pay for the land it’ll be on and a plaque as he was cremated.” You can donate to Amanda’s Go Fund Me in memory of James Burrows, by visiting their page.

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