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Toddler's white 'glow' in his eye turned out to be deadly tumour

Toddler's white 'glow' in his eye turned out to be deadly tumour

These are the images that – unbeknownst to his parents at the time – revealed that a one-year-old boy had a rare and deadly tumor.

A family photo taken last summer shows the smiling Cillian Coyles with an unusual white glow in his left pupil.

His mother Leonnie Ord, 33, of Tyne and Wear, dismissed it as light bouncing off his eyes.

But just a month later, the family was told his ‘cat’s eye’ was caused by a cancer that affects as many as 40 newborns in the UK each year.

Doctors who diagnosed Cillian with retinoblastoma, a tumor in the retina that can be seen through the pupil, that kills one percent of patients.

Cillian undergoes targeted chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and is left blind in the affected eye.

Ms. Ord, a social worker, is now urging other parents to watch out for this early sign of cancer.

The mother-of-two said: “Essentially, that happy, smiling photo of him hides a secret that could be deadly if not discovered in time.

“If you see something different with your child’s eye, get it checked.”

Leonnie Ord, 33, of Tyne and Wear, first noticed a glow over the left pupil of her one-year-old son Cillian Coyles last summer, but dismissed it as the light bouncing off his eye.  Photos from September (above) show a faint white reflection in his eyes and Ms Ord, a social worker, urges other parents to watch out for this early sign of cancer

Leonnie Ord, 33, of Tyne and Wear, first noticed a glow over the left pupil of her one-year-old son Cillian Coyles last summer, but dismissed it as the light bouncing off his eye. Photos from September (above) show a faint white reflection in his eyes and Ms Ord, a social worker, urges other parents to watch out for this early sign of cancer

A photo of Cillian, taken with flash in December (above), three months after his diagnosis, shows an unmistakable circular glow covering his pupil

A photo of Cillian, taken with flash in December (above), three months after his diagnosis, shows an unmistakable circular glow covering his pupil

Cillian was officially diagnosed with cancer at Birmingham Children's Hospital

Cillian was officially diagnosed with cancer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital

The toddler is now undergoing targeted chemotherapy, including intravitreal chemotherapy eye injections, which reduce the size of the tumor

The toddler is now undergoing targeted chemotherapy, including intravitreal chemotherapy eye injections, which reduce the size of the tumor

She added: ‘Any change in the eye doesn’t mean it could be cancer, but if we had noticed Cillian earlier and had it checked he might still have had his vision in his left eye, we just don’t know. ‘

Ms. Ord shared how in August she first saw a glow that would come and go in Cillian’s left pupil.

But by October it had become more prominent. She said, “Then I started noticing it a little more and we moved into a house that had a lot more light.

“It was a white glow all over his pupil, it was like he had a cat’s eye.

WHAT IS retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer that can affect young children, usually under 5 years of age.

Symptoms include an unusual white reflection in the pupil, strabismus, a red or inflamed eye, and poor vision.

Retinoblastoma occurs when retinal eye cells — which are believed to grow very quickly and then stop growing during a baby’s early development — continue to grow and form cancer.

Depending on the size of the tumor. If it is small, laser and freezing treatments are performed that aim to destroy the tumor.

If it is larger, young people may undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Some children may lose sight or have their eye removed.

Between 40 and 50 cases of retinoblastoma are diagnosed each year in the UK.

The figure equates to one in 15,000 to 20,000 newborns.

About four in ten cases are diagnosed in the first year of life and the incidence falls to a very low percentage after the age of five.

About two-thirds of retinoblastomas are diagnosed in only one eye.

More than nine in ten cases are detected early and cured before the cancer spreads beyond the eyeball.

Source: NHS, Children with Cancer UK

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“As it started to get more prominent and I looked down on him, I saw this white looking back at me, which I now know is the tumor in his eye.

“I mentioned it to my partner Gary who hadn’t seen it and we went for a week and I said, ‘Can you see that? Come and have a look over there’ and then he started noticing.

“So we knew there was something to check.”

She contacted her GP and optician before turning to A&E in October.

Cillian was referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who revealed he had become blind in his left eye from the tumor pressing on his optic nerve.

Retinoblastoma occurs when retinal eye cells — which are believed to grow very quickly and then stop growing during a baby’s early development — continue to grow and form cancer.

When the tumor forms, the light bounces off the white surface of the cancer, causing the child’s dilated pupil to appear white in flash photos or dim light.

Between 40 and 50 cases of retinoblastoma are diagnosed each year in the UK, equivalent to one in 15,000 to 20,000 newborns.

Two days after their appointment, the couple traveled to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where Cillian was officially diagnosed with cancer.

Ms Ord said: ‘When I started Googling, I went from cataracts to cancer. I had gone from one side of the scale to the other.

“I knew it was something, but I never guessed it would be cancer. So that obviously scared me and I couldn’t sleep that night.

“Before we went to Birmingham, we kind of accepted that we thought he was going to be diagnosed with cancer.

“My main concern was that he would lose his little personality and hair and he would become very bad. There were three things I couldn’t get out of my head.’

Ms Ord went through photos and videos of Cillian since he was born and just found a clip from last September where the tumor was visible.

The images show a faint white reflection in his eye, while flash photos of him taken just three months later show an unmistakable circular glow over his pupil.

The toddler is now undergoing targeted chemotherapy, which includes intravitreal chemotherapy — when cancer drugs are injected directly into the eye — which shrink the tumor.

Ms Ord: ‘The way she described it is that the investigation was massive, but if Cillian had presented five years ago, his eye would have been removed immediately.

Leonnie Ord, a social worker, pictured with her son Cillian Coyles and daughter Aoife Coyles, and fiancé Gary Coyles, a juvenile delinquency case manager

Leonnie Ord, a social worker, pictured with her son Cillian Coyles and daughter Aoife Coyles, and fiancé Gary Coyles, a juvenile delinquency case manager

“We were told that his chemo was going to stop and they were very happy with it and at the next check-up his chemo would have to start all over again.

“The chemo has started to poison the healthy part of his eye, so they’ll have to treat that now too.

“When he was first diagnosed they talked about it being a roller coaster and we didn’t quite understand what that meant for the past few months because it’s a lot of ups and downs.”

The family has set up a JustGiving page to raise money for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust – nearly £7,000 raised to date – and are doing year-round activities, including taking part in the Great North Run in September, to further fund the to increase.

And they are urging others to be alert to the tell-tale signs of retinoblastoma.

Mrs. Ord said, ‘If you see anything different with your child’s eye, get it checked.

“If you notice something in your friend’s eye or if you see a photo on Facebook, don’t be afraid to warn that parent.

‘Because as a parent you would rather be afraid of an appointment for a week than that it is too late and your child loses eye or sight, or the cancer has spread.

“Any change in the eye doesn’t mean it could be cancer, but if we’d noticed and checked Cillian earlier, he might still have had his vision in his left eye. We just don’t know.”

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