Brave toddler Sophie Baines is battling a rare cancer that has already cost her the sight in one eye.
The two year old was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes, in July last year, after her mum spotted that she had what appeared to be a squint.
Now, as doctors fight to stop her losing both her eyes, her parents Gemma and Paul are urging others to be vigilant of the symptoms.
Mrs Baines, 32, of Clifton Avenue, Stanley said: “I didn’t even know you could get cancer in your eyes, but I just knew as a mother that something wasn’t right. Her eyes didn’t seem to focussed when she turned around.
“I went to the GP and she was referred to hospital but we had to wait nine weeks, by which time the tumour in her right eye had become so big that it had caused her retina to detach, and she had lost the sight in that eye.”
Mrs Baines said the family were later told that Sophie’s sight could possibly have been saved if she had been seen on the day she was referred.
She added: “We will never know, but if we can help just one person by sharing Sophie’s story then something good will come from it.
“It is such an aggressive form of cancer that people need to act fast and trust their instincts if they have any worries at all. God knows where we would be at now if I had not said anything.”
Most children with retinoblastoma need at least one eye removed, but because Sophie has cancer in both eyes, doctors chose to try chemotherapy first to shrink the tumours. The youngster also receives laser treatment and cryotherapy, which is freezing, at Birmingham Children’s Hospital every month.
Mrs Baines added: “She has to have regular examinations under anaesthetic because the tumours can grow at any time. Her grandparents trek to Birmingham with us and it is always a nerve-wracking time. None of us sleep the night before an appointment. The latest results were good news, the tumours hadn’t grown. We just take every day as it comes and try to stay positive for Sophie.”
At its height, the gruelling treatment took its toll on the tot, but her mum said she is beginning to bounce back, adding: “She was very poorly and became wary of people in uniform. We couldn’t let her mix with other children with her immune system being low, so she became very withdrawn, but she is slowly getting her confidence back and is her bubbly little self again.”