Boy Has Eye Removed Over Christmas After Mum Finds Rare Cancer In Photo
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For most families, Christmas is a time for happiness and joy - but for one couple, it turned into a nightmare when they found out their son would need to have his eye removed due to a rare form of cancer.
Their brave son, Noah Blanks, was just four years old when he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma after dad Ollie noticed something odd about one of his eyes.
When a quick Google search came up with retinoblastoma, Noah's mum and Ollie's partner Laila Gaudry took some pictures with a flash and were 'horrified' when one showed the white reflection.
Doctors confirmed their fears, and decided the best course of action would be a course of chemotherapy, which he bravely endured over the next few months.
Although doctors warned that Noah may require enucleation (removal of the eye), this was a worst case scenario.
Laila explained: "Noah would need six cycles of chemotherapy.
"The path was always going to be hard but life threw some extra challenges at him from the beginning - he had an allergic reaction to the medication and developed a fever.
"But as time went on there were fewer complications and the tumour was responding well."
As Christmas approached, things were looking good. Tests showed the tumour was shrinking and his chemo was coming to an end.
However, this only made the next update all the more devastating. Just a few days before Christmas, Ollie and Laila were called into the hospital, where their doctor explained that Noah's tumour had grown substantially and the best option was enucleation.
"After everything Noah had been through, I couldn't believe it. What was meant to be a good bit of news before Christmas had turned into a nightmare," added Laila.
"I had an anger and heartache raging inside me that our little boy had fought so hard. But I also wanted the cancer gone and I knew that once his eye had been removed it couldn't hurt him anymore."
They decided to wait until 26 December to let Noah know about the operation, giving him the opportunity to enjoy Christmas with no worries. And even when they did tell him, he took it like a champ and was sent for the operation the following day.
Laila continued: "Noah had his temporary prosthetic fitted four weeks later and I was truly amazed at how good it looked and how well he coped. At his first check-up post-surgery he was given the all clear.
"Noah is now six years old and doing really well. His big brother Jake is so supportive and they're inseparable - best friends and partners in crime.
"I'm relieved Noah had the surgery rather than going through more treatment and it was the right decision for our family.
"Last year we moved to Eastbourne and it felt like a fresh start. Everything is moving forward and Ollie and I are getting married next year.
"Christmas is approaching and we're really excited... We're also going to Lapland thanks to a wish granted by the charity Rays of Sunshine.
"We haven't told Noah yet as we want to surprise him. Life is so much better and I hope our story can help other families to know that there really is light at the end of the tunnel."