Sandwick family raising awareness of rare eye cancer

A family from Sandwick aim to raise awareness and funds after one-year old Cian Smith was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer. 

The condition affects around 40-50 young children in the UK every year.

Signs can include a white glow in the pupil, a squint where one eye looks in or out, a change in the colour of the iris, an absence of red eye in one pupil and a red, sore or painful eye without infection.

Cian’s mother Kirstin Smith has a friend whose son had retinoblastoma,  which ultimately enabled her to identify the signs in her own child.

“It was just a couple of weeks before Christmas, we were just in the sitting room watching TV and I noticed his eye was kind of clouded.

“I have a friend whose son had retinoblastoma a few years ago, she’d shared a lot of information on Facebook and as soon as I saw it I thought ‘that doesn’t sit well with me.’

“I thought ‘I’m being stupid, what’s the odds, it’s such a rare cancer’ but then I knew if you took a flash photo and it showed up then that would be a bad sign.

“I got him in the dark and look in a certain way and then I got the photo,” she recalled.

Within a week, they received the news Cian has retinoblastoma.

“Specsavers could see something as well, they said ‘it’s probably a cataract or something harmless, it’s very rare to be this’ but they sent us urgently to Aberdeen.

“He got seen on Monday and they did an ultrasound, they could see the tumour and then by the end of that week we were in Birmingham seeing the specialist team.

“The following week after that, he started chemotherapy.”

Cian with his older sister Christi Smith. 
Cian with his older sister Christi Smith. 

Cian’s grandmother Wilma Sineath is walking 50km this month to raise money for The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT).

“The charity have really supported Kirstin, Tomas and Cian when they’ve been down in Birmingham.

“It’s scary how soon something becomes your new normal, it was such a shock last December with what Kirstin saw in his eye,” Mrs Sineath said.

Donations to the fundraiser can be made here

Read the full story in this week’s Shetland Times. 


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