Baby Eliza Deakin 'responding well' to pioneering eye cancer treatment

Lucy Deakin with baby Eliza, who is receiving treatment for eye cancer, and her sisters Megan and Freya

Lucy Deakin with baby Eliza, who is receiving treatment for eye cancer, and her sisters Megan and Freya

First published in News

The mother of a baby receiving pioneering new treatment for eye cancer says her daughter’s sight could have been saved by the therapy.

Lucy Deakin and husband Jamie have been taking 13-month-old Eliza to the Royal London Hotel for weekly sessions of intravitreal chemotherapy since November.

Eliza is the first to undergo the treatment, which was the only hope of saving her right eye, at the hospital and only the second in the country.

She was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (Rb) when she was two-months-old. Her left eye responded well to traditional treatment, but the new therapy, where the chemotherapy drug is injected behind her iris, was recommended for her right eye.

“They think she’s responding really well. Her left eye has completely stabilised since the last treatment on it in December and with her right eye, they think everything is progressing really well,” said Mrs Deakin, 31, of Melbourne Street, Shipley.

Eliza will have her eighth, and final, treatment this week and will then have regular check-ups.

“She might grow another tumour, so they will keep checking her until she is five or six, but the gaps between check-ups will get longer as she gets older,” Mrs Deakin, a nurse, said.

“Just before Christmas they said they thought it was starting to work, but kind of tentatively.”

The family received another update last week.

“We’re definitely a bit more relaxed,” Mrs Deakin said. “It was really nice to hear that it might be working. we’re starting to feel more positive.

“It’s been nearly a year since she was diagnosed. It’s been a pretty full-on year and this is the first time in both eyes that it’s been pretty stable. It looks like we’re past the first biggest hurdle. We’re really pleased.”

Eliza has no sight in her left eye, but good sight in her right eye, despite a damaged retina.

The cancer had developed in such a way that the only alternative treatments were radiotherapy – which carries the risk of further cancer developing – or the removal of her eye.

Eliza’s treatment is being overseen by consultant ophthalmologist Ashwin Reddy. He said he was pleased with the initial results, but a clearer picture of how successful the treatment has been would emerge over the next few months. “I am happy to say that there has been no deterioration and there is a slight improvement,” said Mr Reddy.

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