Brave Royal Wooton Bassett toddler battles cancer in his eyes
AN EYE test at the local opticians turned in to every parent’s worst nightmare for the Plant family.
Will and Georgina Plant, of Royal Wootton Bassett, took their one-year-old son Benjamin to Haine and Smith for a test after noticing some odd symptoms in his right eye.
Just days later, little Benjamin was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour known as Retinoblastoma in both eyes.
Retinoblastoma is a fast-growing form of cancer which develops in the cells of the retina – the light-sensitive lining of the eye – and generally affects children before the age of five.
The tell-tale signs most commonly include a white reflection in the pupil often noticed in photographs or dim lighting.
Children may also have a new squint, a change of colour to the iris or a red, sore or swollen eye without infection.
The Plants noticed some of these symptoms in Benjamin and asked the optometrist to check it out.
Will said: “I asked my optometrist to look at Benjamin’s right eye because we were concerned about an odd, cats-eye reflection that we had noticed intermittently and under very specific lighting conditions and angles.
“On seeing something extremely serious that needed immediate investigation, the optometrist stayed on late to prepare a referral letter, and even phoned the Great Western Hospital in Swindon on the May bank holiday Sunday to ensure Benjamin was seen by the ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”
An orthoptics appointment at the GWH revealed a loss of sight in Benjamin’s right eye that Will and Georgina had previously been unaware of.
From here, following an examination under anaesthetic, the Plants were referred to the specialist retinoblastoma clinic at the Royal London Hospital.
Retinoblastoma’s are graded based on their position and size, with a grade A being the least and E the most dangerous.
Doctors at the Royal London graded Benjamin’s right eye at D and the tumour in his left eye, which had thankfully been caught early, as an A.
Will said: “Benjamin was prescribed a six cycle course of chemotherapy and given a greater than 99 per cent chance of survival, with a good chance of saving the vision in his left eye and a 50/50 chance of saving his right eye and any remaining vision.”
According to his parents, Benjamin has coped well with making numerous trips to the hospital for treatment and, despite his illness, is a lively, happy boy.
He has now completed his chemotherapy and is continuing to go to London every four to six weeks for monitoring and further treatment.
His parents are also full of praise for the optometrist who detected the disease.
“If it hadn’t been for her speed of action we might not be in the same position now,” said Georgina.
“The main message I would like to give to other parents is, if you have any concerns at all, go and get your child checked out.”
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