Mother’s heartache after a young child’s change in eye color turns out to be rare cancer

A mother was devastated to learn that a change in the color of her two-year-old son’s eye was a rare form of cancer.

Little Kenny Chapman, from Guisborough, has retinoblastoma, which affects babies and young children.

His mother Katy Mosley became concerned after discovering that his right pupil appeared to have a white color.

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The 27-year-old took Kenny to a local optician and her doctor, who sent him to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

The young child was referred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he underwent an ultrasound of his dilated pupils.

Katy then got the heartbreaking news that he had a tumor that was almost a grade E – the most severe type.

That mother-of-two has described the moment she found out her son had cancer as “terrible”.

Katy, who is also the mother of Milly Wise, seven, said: “The doctor who had been the one doing the procedure sat down. I could see on his face that something was wrong.

“I remember he said to us, ‘First of all, what do you know about retinoblastoma?’ The only thing I can remember I replied was, ‘Is that it, right?’ and I broke down, he said yes.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking. You hear these stories, but you do not think you will ever live it yourself.

“Kenny has been absolutely fine in himself and that’s why it was so hard to believe it.

“They showed us the pictures inside Kenny’s bad eye. You could see the tumor and lots of little white circles floating around in his eye.

“They also told us that his retina has completely loosened inside his bad eye.”

The picture of Kenny’s eye that Katy sent to the hospital

Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the retina – the photosensitive mucous membrane at the back of the eye.

According to the NHS, around 45 children are diagnosed with the condition in the UK each year.

Katy said she became aware of the whiteness of his pupil while at a friend’s home in August this year.

She noticed something unusual about Kenny’s eye when a lamp was turned on and the lights were dim.

Katy said, “I was not sure what was strange about it, but it did not look right.

“Then I began to notice in certain lights, mostly dim light, I could see inside his pupil – it looked white.”

Katy said that after failing to get an appointment with Specsavers because Kenny was so young, she contacted her local doctor and was referred to Middlesbrough Hospital.

During the two weeks she waited for an appointment, she managed to get Kenny an appointment with a local optician SH Reily in Chaloner Street, Guisborough, where Christian Reily examined his eye.

Katy said, “He saw a small glance and told me there was something in the back of his eye, but he could not tell me exactly what then Kenny would not let him look proper.

“I then went on to mention how I had googled and looked about the retinoblastoma – he said that if I had not already received a referral from the doctors, he would do so as soon as possible.”

Katy said that when they did not receive an appointment within the two weeks, the optician wrote a letter to the hospital and she was given an appointment the following morning.

She said she is grateful to him for offering her and Kenny his support and his kindness during the difficult time.

During the hospital appointment, Katy was told that pictures of Kenny’s eye would be sent to a doctor.

A striking image of Kenny’s eye was sent to doctors, and she received a call from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, who said they thought he might have retinoblastoma.

On October 15, Katy and Kenny’s father Brad Chapman, 26, traveled to Birmingham to get an appointment at the hospital, and they received the news they had feared.

They were told that Kenny had a grade D tumor, which progressed to a grade E, and a plan would be made for him to have six rounds of chemotherapy at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle.

She was told that Kenny would need chemotherapy injected into his eye, and although the chances of saving an eye are good, his level of vision will depend on how the treatment proceeds.

Kenny Chapman with her mother Katy Mosley
Kenny Chapman with her mother Katy Mosley

Kenny underwent his first round of chemotherapy, which lasts five hours, on October 30 and is expected to be his next on November 24.

Katy keeps an online diary of Kenny’s treatment and encourages others to be aware of the glow that can occur in a child’s eye.

She said Morrisons in Guisborough has donated a bullet to Kenny and that a Just Giving page has been set up for the family.

Katy added: “We’ve gotten a lot of support from family and friends, but everyone on Facebook has been amazing and so friendly.”

Retinoblastoma can affect either one or both eyes.

If picked up early, more than nine out of 10 children with the disorder will be cured.

Signs and symptoms of retinoblastoma include:

  • an unusual white reflection in the pupil
  • a squint
  • a change in the color of the iris
  • a red or inflamed eye
  • poor eyesight

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