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Vigilant Leeds mum spotted cancer in her baby’s eye

LUCKY BOY: Callum with mum Erin and dad Dan: the cancer was caught before it could spread, but his eye was removed.

LUCKY BOY: Callum with mum Erin and dad Dan: the cancer was caught before it could spread, but his eye was removed.

  • by Katie Baldwin
 

A Leeds mum whose keen vision led to her baby son being diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer is urging other parents to be vigilant.

Callum Holmes, who turns one next week, had his eye removed last month after doctors found he had retinoblastoma.

As the disease was picked up so swiftly, it had not spread.

Now his mum Erin, from Rodley, Leeds, is warning other parents to watch out for the signs.

“I had never heard of this before,” she said.

“It took us three-and-a-half years to have Callum – this baby was so wanted. He is still beautiful but he will just be this lucky boy too now.”

She said it was very fortunate Callum’s illness was picked up – as he didn’t have the telltale symptom of his pupil looking white on a photograph.

Instead Mrs Holmes had noticed something strange in his eye on a few occasions. When her family agreed they could see it too, she contacted her GP.

Immediately the family doctor warned Mrs Holmes and husband Dan that it could be a tumour and referred Callum to St James’s Hospital.

“As soon as I put it into Google when I got home, it said eye cancer – I was beside myself.”

Specialists diagnosed retinoblastoma, which affects just 50 children a year.

He was sent to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, one of two centres in the country which treat the disease. There doctors discovered the tot had no sight in one eye because of the tumour.

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Mrs Holmes, 32 who added: “There was no choice other than to take his eye out.”

Callum underwent the operation and recovered well, though he has had recurring issues with his false eye which doctors are treating.

Mrs Holmes, a teacher in Bradford, added that support from family and friends, as well as “fantastic” care from medical staff, had helped them through the ordeal.

Now she is determined to ensure other parents are more aware, by telling people about the symptoms and explaining what happened.

“If people ask, I will say that it’s cancer. I am talking to all my friends about it.”

She is also backing a successful campaign by charity The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust to get the warning signs of retinoblastoma included in the Personal Child Health Record, which is given to parents at birth.

 

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