Botesdale parents raising awareness after baby son loses eye to cancer

Baby Johnny has had to have his eye removed after suffering from eye cancer. Parents Michaela Poll and Aron are organising a fundraising event in July for the charity CHECT''''PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Baby Johnny has had to have his eye removed after suffering from eye cancer. Parents Michaela Poll and Aron are organising a fundraising event in July for the charity CHECT''''PICTURE: Mecha Morton

A mum whose baby son lost an eye to cancer is hoping to raise funds for the charity supporting her.

Michaela Poll, 27, was stunned when specialists told her three weeks ago, her 18-month-old son, Johnny, had a rare condition, called retinoblastoma.

We want to raise awareness so other parents can spot the signs

Michaela Poll

The condition represents only three per cent of childhood cancers and only affects children under the age of five.

A tumour meant Johnny’s eye had to be removed along with half of his optic nerve, last week.

“As soon as I heard the word tumour, I cried instantly,” said Michaela, a cleaner, from Botesdale.

“The next day I was told it was cancerous and that we would have to go to the Royal London Hospital immediately.

“After the operation, I started planning to fundraise almost straight away, to give myself some kind of focus.

“I couldn’t get my head around it. You never think an 18-month-old child will get cancer, and you are never prepared.”

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer and can be treated if picked up early enough.

“We noticed a strange mark in Johnny’s eye when he was about nine months old and told our health visitor after two or three months,” said Michaela.

“It looked like a little cataract and she said she would get us an appointment at a centre – but time went on.

“We decided to take him to an optician ourselves and after that, everything happened so fast.

“I have learnt that 40 children are diagnosed with the condition every year but nobody really seems to know about it.

“We want to raise awareness so other parents can spot the signs.”

Michaela, and her partner Aron, 27, a farmer, are being supported by The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), which carries out research into the condition.

They are arranging a fund-raising day at Rickinghall Village Hall on July 21.

“We are now waiting until April 11 to hear if Johnny has been given the all-clear or if the cancer is still there,” said Michaela.

“If he needs to go to Addenbrooke’s or Great Ormond Street for chemotherapy, we will raise money for them, too.”

Visit www.gofundme.com and search Johnny’s Retinoblastoma Journey to support the couple’s cause.

To find out more about the condition and CHECT, visit www.chect.org.uk