I caught the subtle sign that something was seriously wrong with my little girl as she played with her toys

A mother is urging parents to check their children’s eyes after her daughter is diagnosed with eye cancer.

Isla Palul was just 14 months old when her mother Rebecca, 35, noticed her eye was moving strangely as she played with her toys.

Pictured: Isla Palul (right) with mothers Rebecca (left), Charlotte (middle)


Pictured: Isla Palul (right) with mothers Rebecca (left), Charlotte (middle)Photo credit: Jam Press
Doctors discovered that Isla had a tumor in her right eye


Doctors discovered that Isla had a tumor in her right eyePhoto credit: Jam Press
Pictured: Isla shows a glow in her right eye


Pictured: Isla shows a glow in her right eyePhoto credit: Jam Press

“I remember playing with Isla on the floor and she would look down at a toy and then look up at me.

“When she looked up, her right eye shot sideways and back again like it couldn’t focus,” Rebecca recalls.

Rebecca, who lives in Putney, London with her wife Charlotte, 36, and their other child, five-month-old Theo, also noted that little Isla’s eye “wobbled” at times.

At first, her parents thought she had lazy eyes—a type of poor eyesight that occurs when the brain and eye collapse.

“I remember not really worrying about that,” Rebecca said.

Her mothers took Isla to the hospital for a check-up – at this point they still believed she probably just had problems with her eyesight.

After several tests, doctors told Rebecca her little girl had a tumor in her right eye.

The rare form of cancer known as retinoblastoma is diagnosed in 40 to 50 children and babies in the UK each year

If caught early, retinoblastoma can often be treated successfully, according to the NHS.

“I was crying and Isla was looking at me perfectly happy and probably wondering what was going on,” Rebecca said.

Fortunately, doctors hoped the eye could be saved, and Isla began systemic chemotherapy.

Three-year-old Isla contracted multiple infections during the six rounds of chemotherapy she received, which meant several hospitalizations, but thankfully the tumor shrank.

And despite her health struggles, Rebecca says brave Isla stayed happy and smiling throughout her treatment.

She said: “Isla fought through chemo like a little soldier, she kept us all going.

“The tumor is stable now, which is amazing [but] There are some tiny tumor sprouts that keep appearing and growing in Isla’s eye, so she needed a lot of cryotherapy to treat them.

“Isla had periods for a few months where everything was looking good. However, she also relapsed a few times.”

Since the diagnosis, Isla’s parents have noticed symptoms almost too subtle to recognize and are keen to warn other parents what to look out for.

It wasn’t until her mothers took a picture of Isla with a camera flash after diagnosis that they noticed the most common symptom of retinoblastoma — a white “glow” in the eye.

The Trust for Eye Cancer in Children says typical signs of retinoblastoma include a white glow that can only appear in certain lighting conditions or squinting, a change in the appearance of the eye, or a swollen eye.

Isla also has slightly impaired vision in her right eye, which Rebecca reveals wasn’t apparent before: “Sometimes she has trouble walking down stairs and with her balance, but only when her left eye is patched to improve vision help her right eye which you can really notice.”

Despite Isla’s health journey, Rebecca insists that the young tot take it upon himself to do gymnastics, swimming and Frozen.

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And in 2022, she even received the CHECT Champion Award from the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust for her bravery.

Although Rebecca is hopeful Isla is on the mend, she admits “the unknown is difficult” as all they can do is wait and hope for more good news, but the support of family, friends and the charity has been instrumental.

Retinoblastoma symptoms

Retinoblastoma is a rare eye cancer in children that originates in the part of the eye called the retina

Doctors often find retinoblastoma during a routine examination of the baby. Most often, however, parents notice symptoms such as:

  • White (leucocoria) or red pupil instead of the normal black
  • Misaligned eyes (strabismus) looking toward the ear or nose
  • Red, painful eye
  • Enlarged pupil
  • Irises of different colors
  • Bad sight

Source: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/health/10464556/eye-cancer-spot-playing-child/ I caught the subtle sign that something was seriously wrong with my little girl as she played with her toys

Andrew Schnitker

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