Mum's Life

'A true inspiration': Mum opens up about her daughter's eye cancer battle

One mum has bravely opened up about her daughter’s battle with retinoblastoma. Carol Baxter’s daughter Harley was diagnosed with cancer in both her eyes at just ten months old.

Harley had to have her right eye removed to save her life. “When Harley was about six months old we noticed a white reflection in her eyes in certain lighting, but we never really thought anything of it. Then she developed a turn in her eye so we took her to get checked out but were told there was nothing to worry about.”

Her mum decided to google her symptoms, “Information about retinoblastoma came up but I thought it couldn’t be anything that serious as she was so healthy and well.”

Weeks later, the family visited the Royal London Hospital, “We were in London being given the news we had dreaded. We knew that day that she was going to lose an eye.”

However, the little girl has never let cancer hold her back, her dad shared, “She’s been the exact same girl throughout it all. She was brilliant on the day of the surgery to remove her eye and during all of the treatment she has had since.”

“She has made the whole experience much easier than it should have been for us and she is a true inspiration,” he added.

Two out of three parents aren’t aware that a squint or lazy eye can be a symptom of an aggressive eye cancer in children, according to a new survey. Last year nearly 40 percent of children diagnosed with retinoblastoma had a squint.

In a poll of more than 1,000 parents, only 35 percent identified a squint as one of the signs of retinoblastoma, which is a form of cancer that affects babies and children aged under six.

A squint, or turn in the eye as it is also known, is where the eyes point in different directions. It is the second most common symptom of retinoblastoma, after a white glow in a child’s eye.

This week marks World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week, and The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust is urging parents to get their child checked out if they have a squint.

“Around one child a week is diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the UK, or 50 a year, so it’s very rare and there is no reason for parents to be alarmed. In most cases a squint is completely harmless," said Patrick Tonks, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

Over 90 percent of children diagnosed with retinoblastoma will survive but more than half will lose an eye in order to stop the cancer spreading. It is a very fast growing cancer, so early diagnosis is vital to save a child’s eyes, sight and life.  

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