A mother warns others not to make their mistake after mistaking a white glow in her boy’s eye for a reflection of light.
Leonnie Ord, 33, noticed a glow above the left pupil of her one-year-old son Cillian Coyles in August.
But since it would come and go, she just figured it was the reflection of light and harmless, like many parents would.
It’s only easy to see in September’s footage of “naughty guy” Cillian, but looks like one Red-eye reflection in flash photography.
By October, the glow was becoming more prominent and it seemed like he had a “cat’s eye,” so Leonnie and 36-year-old fiancé Gary Coyle sought medical advice.
After undergoing multiple tests, Cillian’s parents were stunned when he was diagnosed retinoblastoma.
The rare type of eye cancer common affects young children.
Cillian has lost vision in his left eye due to a tumor growing on his optic nerve and is now receiving targeted chemotherapy to shrink it.
Leonnie said his eyesight might have been saved if she and Gary had remembered to get their son checked earlier – and is now warning other parents to ‘know the glow’.
The Hebburn, Tyne and Wear mum-of-two said: “If you see something different with your child’s eye, you need to have it checked.
“If you notice something with your friend’s eye or if you see a photo on Facebook, don’t be afraid to notify that parent.”
“Any change in the eye doesn’t mean it could be cancer.
“But if we had discovered and examined Cillian earlier, he might still have been able to see his left eye, we just don’t know.
“Basically so happy, smiling picture of him hides a secret this can be deadly if not detected in time.”
Leonnie said: “Last summer I noticed a glow in his eyes, but it didn’t happen very often and I sort of put it down to a reflection of light.
“Then I started noticing it a little more, and we moved to a house that had a lot more light, and then I started noticing it more.”
In the weeks leading up to Cillian’s diagnosis, the white glow became more apparent.
“As it started to become more noticeable and I looked down at him I could see this white looking back at me which I now know is the tumor in his eye.
“I had mentioned it to my partner Gary, who hadn’t seen it, and we went for a week and I was like, ‘Can you see that? Come and take a look’, and then he started noticing.
“So we knew there was something that needed to be checked.”
Signs of retinoblastoma
- An unusual white reflection in the pupil
- A squint
- A change in the color of the iris
- A red or sore eye
- Bad sight
Social worker Leonnie contacted her GP and an optometrist before calling the emergency room in October and speaking to a counselor, who advised her to bring Cillian in for a visit.
He was then referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who determined that the year-old had lost his vision in his left eye and that he was almost certain he had retinoblastoma.
Two days later, they traveled to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he was officially diagnosed with retinoblastoma.
Leonnie, who is also mum to five-year-old Aoife Coyles, said: “When I started googling it, I went from cataracts to cancer.
“I had gone from one end of the scale to the other.
“I knew it was something, but I never thought it would be cancer.
“This obviously scared me to death and I couldn’t sleep that night.
“Before we came to Birmingham we kind of accepted that we thought he was going to be diagnosed with cancer.
“My main concerns were that he was going to lose his small personality and his hair and that he would be very poor. Those were three things I just couldn’t get out of my head.”
Cillian is now receiving targeted chemotherapy, with one of the treatments being intravitreal chemotherapy eye injections.
Leonnie said: “The treatment also shrinks and calcifies the tumor.
“It will most likely always be in his eye, but it will be calcified and will kill the tumor somehow.
“They described it as research had progressed massively, but if Cillian had presented five years ago, his eye would have been removed immediately.
“We were told that his chemotherapy was going to stop and that they were really happy with it and that his chemotherapy would have to be restarted at the next check-up.
“The chemo has started to poison the healthy part of his eye so now they have to treat that too.
“When he was first diagnosed they talked about it being a roller coaster ride and we didn’t fully understand what that meant until the last few months because there are so many ups and downs.”
Despite the grueling treatment, Leonnie says her boy has a constant smile on his face.
After a few months of “roller coaster ride” she calls attention to the “white glow” to save a life.
The family founded a Just give Page to raise funds for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust and Leonnie will complete the Great North Run this September.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8648375/white-glow-baby-boys-eye-cancer/ I thought the faint white glow was just the light reflected in my little boy’s eye