Mum spots rare cancer in her baby’s eye

(Picture: PA)

A mother spotted a rare and aggressive cancer in her baby’s eye and now she is urging other parents to look out for symptoms of the disease.

Indiana, who is an identical twin, was just a few months old when her mum Alison Lawler spotted a strange glow in one of her eyes.

After a series of tests doctors discovered she had retinoblastoma, a rare cancer which mainly affects babies and children under the age of six.

‘Her eye looked like a cat’s eye or a marble – but only in a certain light,’ said Alison.

Alison noticed that as well as the white glow, baby Indiana also had a slight squint and her eyes pointed in slightly different directions. It was only later that she realised they were all signs of cancer.

‘I feel terrible now, but before she was diagnosed, my husband and I were joking that Indiana looked a bit cross-eyed, which we did check with the health visitor and were reassured all was fine.’

Indiana’s condition was confirmed by doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in January last year, when she was four months old.

Only 40 to 50 cases of retinoblastoma are diagnosed every year in the UK, the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust said.

Indiana and her twin sister Aurelia (Picture: PA)

Alison has said that having twins is difficult enough without finding out that one of them has an extremely serious illness within months of being born.

‘On top of the stress of being a new mother and learning to cope with twins, to hear the news that one of them has cancer, is absolutely terrifying.

You never think it will happen to you – it’s always someone else’s child you hear about – never yours.’

Indiana, now 17 months old, is doing well. She has responded well to chemotherapy and her tumour has shrunk.

‘We’re now spending periods of time covering her good eye with an eye patch to try and improve the vision in her other eye,’ explains Alison.

‘However she’s now sneakily discovered how to remove it. Indiana is certainly the rowdier of the two.’

Indiana’s twin sister Aurelia has a clean bill of health. Luckily, Indiana’s condition is non-hereditary, but Aurelia is being monitored for symptoms as a precaution.

Almost all children who are diagnosed survive this kind of cancer but early diagnosis is essential to save their sight, according to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

But around half of children with this condition will have to have an eye removed to stop the cancer spreading.

Patrick Tonks, chief executive of the charity, said: ‘Retinoblastoma is rare, with around 50 cases diagnosed in the UK each year, so many doctors will never come across it in their career.

‘The symptoms can be quite subtle and children often seem well in themselves which makes it hard to diagnose.

‘Unfortunately this can lead to alarming delays and we know that early diagnosis can potentially offer more treatment options and a better outcome for the child.’

MORE: Man sends woman brutal list of ‘how to improve’ three months after their first date

MORE: I had difficulty describing my mental health symptoms and it led to the wrong diagnosis

MORE: Are constant nightmares a sign of mental health problems?


Leave a Reply