THE mum of a teenage boy diagnosed with a brain tumour after repeatedly told his symptoms were caused by a mental health condition is calling for mandatory MRI scans for children to “save more lives”.

Oscar Fairs, from Benfleet, was initially told to “stop using his phone” after suffering severe headaches, hearing voices in his head and heart palpitations.

For eight months his family were told his symptoms were most likely mental health related.

The 14-year-old, who is on the books at West Ham, had counselling but things only got worse and mum Natalie, 40, “had enough” and demanded answers.

Oscar was seen by a GP who said he had a migraine and needed “putting in a dark room for four days without his phone”.

Stunned Natalie took Oscar home but five days later she took him to A&E and an MRI scan found a 7cm brain tumour.

Despite being told to prepare for palliative care, chemotherapy and radiotherapy shrunk the tumour and he’s now part of a clinical trial.

Natalie, an emotional literacy support assistant, said: “I believe every child up to a certain age should be given a mandatory MRI scan to save more lives. I believe someone is accountable for the eight months beforehand where Oscar’s tumour was diagnosed as mental health and migraines.

“I gave them five or six symptoms in May and yet they still didn’t give us a scan. The doctor who finally took him to his unit was speechless when I told him it had been eight months before we were finally seen for a brain MRI.

“They reckon the tumour could have been in his head for two years before that.

“I have to be grateful that we have the NHS but it hurts that it took eight months.”

Oscar’s first symptoms began in September 2022 when he complained that he had a funny feeling in his arm. Weeks later, Oscar went on to have a panic attack while climbing the stairs and Natalie rushed him back to hospital.

But doctors again dismissed her concerns and put it down to a mental health related issue. Over the next few months, Natalie continued to have Oscar assessed by doctors and counsellors but the outcome was the same.

After being told by a GP Oscar’s severe headaches was because of a migraine, a “stunned” Natalie was fed up and went to Southend Hospital.

She said: “I took him straight through to A&E and I told them he was dying. The doctor asked Oscar to smile and one side of his face didn’t move. I was convinced it was a stroke. I had no awareness of brain tumours. He went in for an MRI and they told us we’d saved our baby’s life.”

Oscar had the tumour removed in a 13-hour surgery. He had six more surgeries to remove other cancerous lumps on his head.

She said: “I was told all three options are palliative care. The 3rd option was he has chemotherapy and radiotherapy to slow down or pause the cancer and to have five days of intense radiation to the whole head.

“If there was any shrinkage then they’d open a clinical trial for him.”

After being told to have a memorable Christmas, Natalie and Oscar received some incredible news.

She said: “A week into January we were told there was shrinkage so they were going to open a trial and no one with an ependymoma had had a trial like this before.

“We burst into tears, running around the house with happiness and I asked the oncologist where this would leave us now.”

Natalie has since been told that if Oscar’s cancerous lumps continue to be active they may be resistant to radiation.

“I need to get it out there to anyone that can help that specialises in ependymoma’s that can offer us treatment or surgery,” she said.

You can support Oscar and his journey here: