A devastated mum told today (Mon) how her two-year-old daughter lost an eye after it took bungling doctors almost TWO YEARS to realise she had a rare form of cancer.
Stephanie Beasley, 25, first raised concerns about little Ezmai’s eyesight when a Christmas family photograph in 2014 showed up a white glow in her left pupil.
She took her daughter to a local health centre thinking she just had a lazy eye and medics told her Ezmai’s vision was fine and to check back in six months.
And after a second visit to Tamworth Health Centre in September last year she was once again told there was nothing wrong with her child’s eyesight.
But Stephanie decided to visit the Sir Robert Peel Hospital, in Tamworth, Staffs., four weeks later due to “mother’s intuition”.
Doctors there referred her to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she was stunned to be told Ezmai had retinoblastoma and required lifesaving surgery to remove her eye.
The brave youngster underwent the operation in October last year and now has to wear an artificial eye.
Today (Mon) Stephanie, who lives with fiance James Hopkins, 23, in Tamworth, said they believed Ezmai’s eye could have been saved if medics had acted sooner.
She said: “We were just fobbed off to start with. They told us her eyesight was fine and she wasn’t diagnosed for another 18 months.
“It was frightening to know she had cancer all this time,we were told she’d had it for quiet a while.
“I was angry it had not been picked up previously – it could have saved her eye.”
Stephanie, who has two other children from a previous relationship, first knew there was something wrong with her daughter’s vision when she was just nine-months-old.
She added:”She had a lazy eye and we spoke to a health visitor and then took her to the pre-school vision team but they told me to come back in six months.
“I kept taking her but they couldn’t find anything wrong.
“My instincts told me there was something wrong with Ezmai but I felt no-one believed me and that I was going mad. It must have been mother’s intuition.
“We eventually got referred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and it was there that we were told Ezmai had a tumour in her eye.
“We’ve since learned that she was probably blind in one eye for a year but as she was so young, we didn’t realise.”
Symptoms of retinoblastoma include an unusual white reflection in the pupil which may be apparent in photos.
Others are a squint, a change in the colour of the iris and a red or inflamed eye, though this is not usually accompanied by pain.
Stephanie, who works in a Subway restaurant, added: “We looked back at an old photo of Ezmai at Christmas in 2014 and we can see a white glow in her eye.
“But at the time we had absolutely no idea this could mean she had cancer.
“Ezmai has bounced back amazingly and coped so well with everything that has been thrown at her.
“She is very energetic and outgoing and she enjoys playing with anything and everything.
“The operation hasn’t changed her one bit.
“Of course, she was groggy when she first came around but the very next day she was having fun in the hospital playroom as if nothing had happened
“Her strength has helped us pull through this as a family.
“We are still waiting for genetic tests to come back but so far everything is looking good and there are no signs of cancer anywhere else.
“So we have to be grateful for that but its hard not be angry when you know if this was spotted sooner, her eye could have possibly been saved.”
In about 40 per cent of cases, retinoblastoma is caused by a faulty gene, which often affects both eyes.
It is not known what causes the remaining 60 per cent of cases.
Patrick Tonks, chief executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: “We believe everyone should know that children can get cancer in their eyes and what the signs are, and we work hard to raise awareness among health professionals and the public.”