Ribbleton girl starts primary school after beating eye cancer

Posted on - 11th September, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Education, Preston News, Ribbleton, Schools
Matilda Farley was diagnosed after a strange glint was spotted in her eye when she was a baby Pic: Cancer Research UK

A Ribbleton girl has started school after recovering from a rare eye cancer.

Four-year-old Matilda Farley was diagnosed at 10 months after a glow in her left eye was noticed in photographs.

Mum, Beth Bretherton, 25, said: “It was very emotional on Matilda’s first day, she has overcome so much. As a parent, you hear cancer and think the worst.

“Matilda has had a lot thrown at her, but she has taught us as a family that no matter what life throws at you, keep smiling, and that’s what she has always done.”

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Tests revealed a tumour behind Matilda’s left eye and she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in March 2020 just as the lockdown restrictions began.

Beth, who works as a nail technician, said: “I had taken some pictures one day and there was this glow on her left eye that looked different to her other eye, and it just didn’t look right. I took her to the doctors, and they examined her, but they couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t until her eight-month routine check-up when I mentioned it again that she was then referred to a specialist.”

Matilda’s left eye was giving a strange glint in photographs causing her mother concern Pic: Cancer Research UK

Due to the restrictions at the time only one parent could be with Matilda during her treatment at The Christie, Manchester, which included six rounds of chemotherapy and laser treatment.

Throughout lockdown Matilda’s dad, 27-year-old barber Jonny, had to stay at home with the couple’s eldest son while Matilda and her mum travelled to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for various tests and check-ups.

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Dad Jonny, Matilda, little sister Nancy, big brother Lucas and mum Beth Pic; Cancer Research UK

Beth said: “It was hard going through it all without anyone being able to be with us because of all the restrictions. Matilda used to get scared when she saw anyone with a nurse’s uniform on because she didn’t like the injections. But she did really well, she’s so resilient. Our son Lucas struggled with it all too, it affects the entire family.”

Thankfully doctors managed to save Matilda’s eye, but unfortunately, she has since lost the sight in it completely.

Matilda during her treatment Pic: Cancer Research UK

Matilda went into remission in November 2020 and has just been given the all clear at her annual check-up.

Beth said: “It’s thanks to the research into her treatment that Matilda is okay. That’s why raising money for Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People is so vital. I will be having a good clear out at home to find clothes and things to donate and we hope we will inspire others to do the same. Their unwanted items really could save lives.”

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Matilda with her mum Beth and baby sister Nancy

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, Jemma Humphreys said: “We’re grateful to Matilda and her family for their support. Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects survivors often experience. So, it needs different, dedicated research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good help to fund.

“Thanks to our generous supporters, we’re discovering new ways to treat cancer, so children and young people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of the disease. By donating any quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store, people across Lancashire can help ensure more people under the age of 25 in the county – and across the UK – survive cancer with a good quality of life.”

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