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Baby's eye cancer diagnosis after mum spots symptoms on STV report

Harley Shevill's parents said more must be done to raise awareness of retinoblastoma.

A baby girl was diagnosed with eye cancer after her mother spotted similar symptoms on an STV report.

Harley Shevill, from Motherwell in North Lanarkshire, was just ten months old when she was diagnosed with the disease.

When she began having issues with her eyes, her parents, Coral Baxter and Graeme Shevill, convinced themselves it was nothing serious.

They now say more needs to be done to raise awareness of the disease, known as retinoblastoma.

"She had a white reflection, you could only see it in certain lighting and in pictures it was really strong," explains Harley's mother Coral, 25.

"When I googled it and saw retinoblastoma I thought 'No it can't be that because she can't have cancer, she's healthy'.

"I made an appointment to get it checked and they said it was fine."

It wasn't until a child with the same symptoms featured on STV News that alarm bells started ringing.

https://stv.tv/news/features/1382086-subtle-sign-white-spot-in-eye-revealed-toddler-s-rare-cancer/ | default

Last March, STV told the story of Charlie Boggs, a boy from Gartcosh diagnosed with retinoblastoma, an extremely rare form of cancer which affects young children.

Coral recalls: "My mum phones me and she says 'there's a wee boy Charlie on the news, you need to see it because it's exactly the same as Harley'.

"And when I watched it I got the fright of my life, but I thought 'I definitely need to push because it's not normal - there's something up'."

Parents: At first, doctors told them Harley was fine.
Parents: At first, doctors told them Harley was fine. STV

Diagnosed with the illness two months away from her first birthday, Harley then had to undergo 16 general aesthetics, six rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries, four rounds of laser treatment, four platelet transfusions and the removal of her eye.

But her parents were blown away by the young child's strength and resilience.

"She lost all her hair, all her eyelashes, but she made it so easy," says Coral.

Graeme, 26, Harley's father, adds: "She would always be a wee bit down here and there, a wee bit whingey, but she was brilliant all the way through.

"Her nature never changed.

"There were times you felt it broke your heart but it was probably her who brought us through it than the other way about."

Harley, who celebrated her second birthday in April, has to have check-ups under anaesthetic every six weeks but has responded well to treatment.

'We urge parents to have their child seen by a healthcare professional such as a GP or optician if they have a squint or if they have any other concerns about their child's eyes.'
Patrick Tonks, Childhood Eye Cancer Trust

More than 90% of children diagnosed with retinoblastoma will survive but more than half lose an eye in order to stop the cancer spreading.

It is a very fast growing cancer, so early diagnosis is vital to save a child's eyes, sight and life.

This week is retinoblastoma awareness week and Coral and Graeme hope more people are made aware of the warning signs of this aggressive cancer.

A recent survey found two out of three parents are not aware that a squint or lazy eye can be a symptom of the disease.

In a poll of more than 1000 parents, only 35% identified a squint as one of the signs of retinoblastoma.

A squint, or turn in the eye as it is also known, is where the eyes point in different directions and is the second most common symptom of the cancer, after a white glow in a child's eye.

Last year nearly 40% of children diagnosed with retinoblastoma had a squint.

Patrick Tonks, chief executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: "Around one child a week is diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the UK, or 50 a year, so it's very rare and there is no reason for parents to be alarmed.

"In most cases a squint is completely harmless.

"However, we urge parents to have their child seen by a healthcare professional such as a GP or optician if they have a squint or if they have any other concerns about their child's eyes."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

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