The mother of a toddler who had an eye removed after contracting a rare form of cancer has spoken of the “horrific” moment he was diagnosed as part of a drive to raise awareness of the illness.
Callum Holmes was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was ten months old in September 2012.
He had his right eye removed two weeks later and was fitted with an artificial replacement.
Now, aged two-and-a-half, he has regular check-ups at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital, Leeds, after being transferred from Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Callum’s mother, Erin Holmes, said a positive attitude from the family, including husband Dan, 35, six-month-old son Evan and Callum himself, helped them cope and look to the future.
Callum now wears glasses after being told he was long-sighted.
Mrs Holmes, a teacher at Dixons Allerton Academy, Bradford, said: “It’s been very stressful at times. I find it very difficult on certain days. As a parent, you just want your child to be perfect. He is the same little boy but looks slightly different.
“When he was diagnosed it was a world falling apart-type moment. It was horrific. There is that whole, ‘why him?’ “We found the cancer early enough for it not to spread. We have been incredibly lucky that he hasn’t needed to have any chemotherapy.”
Retinoblastoma is a cancer which affects the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye, of children predominantly under six. Around 40 to 50 children develop it in the UK each year.
Mrs Holmes, 34, added: “We tell Callum he has a special eye.
“He is great. He is a wild bundle of energy. He is a typical two-and-a-half-year-old. He is the happiest kid you could possibly wish to have.
“I do worry about him going to school because children can be very cruel. This cancer is so rare.
“On the whole I’m very positive about it. But there are moments when I get very upset about it all.”
Mrs Holmes has urged all schools in West Yorkshire to get involved in an art competition aimed at raising awareness of retinoblastoma.
World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week, which runs until Saturday, included the launch of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust’s Arts4Eye competition.
Schools and clubs for children aged between five and 11 have been asked to create a piece of artwork with the theme of eyes. The closing date for entries is June 27.
Winning entries will be displayed at the Art4Eyes exhibition in London later this year.
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