WHEN Laurence Smith’s aunt spotted a white mark in his left eye during a routine optometrist appointment, she knew something wasn’t right.
It turns out the seven-year-old had developed a form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma – and spotting it early might have saved his life.
The family are now waiting to see if the treatment has worked, otherwise he might need to have his left eye removed.
Laurence, from Crispin Close in Locks Heath, was having his eyes checked by his aunt Rachael Ley-Smith when she spotted the mark.
He was diagnosed in April 2009 and has undergone intensive bouts of chemotherapy.
‘We are so grateful to her,’ said mum Eva, 39.
‘Luck was on our side with the fact that she was in the family.
‘It’s only because she is in the family that we are more aware of having our eyes checked. It’s unbelievable.
‘We would have got him checked out eventually but the tumour could have been worse by then.’
Laurence added: ‘It’s so good auntie Rachael spotted it. I remember the day. If she hadn’t spotted it, it could have been so much worse.’
Rachael, 43, who works at Rawlings Opticians, said: ‘It’s a million to one chance because it’s such a rare condition for a child of his age.
‘Fortunately I found it but it was a real shock.
‘It’s very important that children do get their eyes checked regularly.
‘It could have had extremely tragic consequences.’
Eva now wants to raise awareness of the disease.
‘I had never thought of cancer affecting the eye,’ she said.
‘Laurence didn’t have any of the warning signs.
‘If it’s caught early you have a much greater chance of saving vision. He has got very good vision in his left eye.
‘The trouble is if the treatment doesn’t get rid of the tumour he will have to have his eye removed.
‘He’s just had his last chemotherapy treatment. We are waiting to see what happens.’
Eva said it’s been tough on the family to deal with Laurence’s illness.
‘It’s just been mind-blowing and so stressful,’ she added.
‘You usually feel so in control of your child’s welfare. It was earth-shattering when we found out.
‘But he has been absolutely amazing. He has been so strong.
‘He is a very confident little boy, he has never complained.
‘He has been very brave. He has sprung back from each treatment very well.
‘Most of the time you would hardly know anything was the matter.’
In July, some of Eva’s colleagues from First Wessex property services in Portsmouth took part in a bike ride to raise money for the Childhood Eye cancer trust.
They cycled from Eastleigh, round to Aldershot and on to the office in Portsmouth. They raised around £2,500.
Visit justgiving.com/first wessexbikeride to donate.