When Rose Lucking-Elhitmi was just 6 months old, her family spent a holiday in the Lake District. Grandfather Terry Luckling took a picture of her and on first glance, it looked like an ordinary photo.
Then, he noticed something odd about the color of her eyes: one was red and the other was white.
When we took the photograph, I noticed that instead of having a red eye, which you would expect, she had one red eye and one white eye.
Worried about the girl’s health, the family decided to take little Rose to the hospital immediately, so they returned to Crediton, Devon. After a doctor examined her, the diagnosis was a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma.
Rose’s parents, Suzannah and Youssef Elhitmi, didn’t know their daughter had tumors growing in both her eyes. Thankfully, then 69-year-old Terry discovered the anomaly just in time.
After that came the diagnosis which is when everything became a bit of a blur. Hearing that your six-month-old child has cancer just turns your life upside down. – Suzannah Elhitmi
Rose began treatment immediately. She spent a lot of time in the hospital while her cancer was being treated. Suzannah recounted how her daughter could not join other children when they were playing or engaged in other activities.
Despite the chemotherapy sessions and long hours under observation, little Rose never lost her spirit.
Rose has been through so much more than most children her age; yet, she is kind, friendly, playful, and helpful. Everyone loves her wherever she goes, and she’s a pure delight to be around. – Suzannah Elhitmi
She is now four years old, and the cancer is in remission. Sadly, she cannot see out of her right eye. In recognition of her bravery, the Childhood Care Trust awarded Rose a medal and named her Champion.
Some people who saw her story had theirs as well
Retinoblastoma typically affects children under the age of five but is pretty uncommon. Some people who saw Rose’s story also had theirs to share.
Warning signs of retinoblastoma
Normally, when a light is shone into the eye, the pupil (dark spot in the center of the eye) turns red because of blood vessels at the back of the eye. If the pupil turns pink or white, this condition is known as white pupillary reflex (or leukocoria). It is the earliest sign of retinoblastoma.
Lazy eye is another common sign of the condition, although it can be mistaken for a weakness in eye muscles.
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