Mum warns of hidden danger of eye cancer

Rachel Bartlett and her daughte Leah ''''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132852-975)
Rachel Bartlett and her daughte Leah ''''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132852-975)

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A MOTHER wants to raise awareness about a rare cancer that led to her daughter having an eye removed.

Rachel Bartlett, 34, of Mill Lane, in Gosport, is raising awareness about retinoblastoma after her daughter Leah, had her eye removed at one-year-old.

And caring mum Rachel said Leah, now eight, has been coping well since the operation and has not let having just one eye stop her.

She said: ‘It happened so quickly, we didn’t really have the time for it to sink in – it was a shock.’

‘She seems to be coping quite well because she doesn’t know any different as it happened to her so young.

‘But as she’s getting older she’s realising that other children have two eyes and she doesn’t.

‘Occasionally she wishes she has two eyes.’

Now Rachel is warning other parents to stay on the look out for a white glow or silver sheen on their children’s eyes.

She said it may be an early indicator that the child has the rare condition, which 80 children are diagnosed with each year in the UK.

Leah, a pupil at St John’s School, in Grove Road, Gosport, has a prosthetic eye.

It means that classmates do not necessarily know Leah has had the operation.

But Leah’s brother Joshua, nine, and sister Amber, six, always ask her to perform a party trick by taking it out.

Rachel added: ‘They treat her normally, sometimes they think it’s quite fun for her to get it out.

‘Not many people know that she’s got a prosthetic eye because it looks like normal.

‘But at school she has to sit on a certain side and she’s not allowed to share books.

‘She’s got perfect vision in her remaining eye.’

In helping spread the word about the condition Leah and Rachel were at Vision Express in Portsmouth to support the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

According to the cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support, retinoblastoma is cured in 98 out of 100 cases.

Not all treatments involve removing the eye, with doctors also able to either freeze the tumour in the eye, use chemotherapy or radiotherapy or laser therapy.

Another treatment sees doctors attach a radioactive disc to the tumour, which is killed over four days.