Family’s fundraising fight for three-year-old cancer patient Laurel
- Credit: Archant
When Laura Allen took her 18-month-old daughter Laurel to have her eyes tested, she expected to come back with glasses for the toddler.
However, what that visit instead led to was a discovery that would turn her family's world upside down as they would later learn that Laurel, now three, suffers from a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma.
What has followed is countless trips to hospital, drastic lifestyle changes and a frustrating uncertainty about Laurel's future.
Mrs Allen first noticed there was a problem when Laurel began walking. She said: 'Whenever she ran past me on the right hand side she would then swivel around to see where I was, as if she didn't see me, and she would often bump into door frames.
'I also noticed her squinting and holding things like books close to her face when she was trying to look at them.'
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Following eye tests, she was referred to Birmingham Children's Hospital, where it was discovered she had tumours in both eyes, which had been caused by a mutated gene.
Laurel has since had several different types of treatment for the illness, including central line fittings, both laser and chemotherapy and a plaque fitted behind her eye.
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'The worst part has been having uncertainty around our child,' added Mrs Allen. 'We know this creates a greater likelihood she will develop cancers elsewhere in her body in later life, but we don't know about timescale or what may happen next.'
The tumours became so aggressive that Laurel had to have her right eye removed, while there are still cancerous growths underneath her left.
The ordeal has resulted in wholesale changes for the family, who have had to move home. Father Mike has had to change jobs, while brothers Lucas, seven and Logan, five, have had to change schools.
The family are from Bradwell, but in October 2013 moved to Falkirk in Scotland to be nearer Mrs Allen's family.
This week they have been staying at a Hopton holiday centre, visiting relatives and friends.
Mr Allen, 35, said: 'We would not have been able to go through this all without the support of our family, who have been wonderful.
'We've been told that this is possibly the most extreme case of retinoblastoma hospital staff have seen.'
Mr Allen's sister Clair, who lives in Bradwell, has since organised a fundraising event to help the family with the costs of the endless hospital visits and adaptations that need to be made to adjust to Laurel's condition.
The event is being held on November 5 at Burgh Hall, with family and friends also chipping in with other projects.
A fundraising page has also been set up at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fiona-burn-1