A dad whose toddler battled retinoblastoma is taking part in the London Marathon so that he can help raise awareness of the symptoms among other parents.

Maeve Ling-Calver was just a year old when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. She had appeared perfectly well and the only sign that anything might be wrong was a squint.

Maeve needed six rounds of chemotherapy following her diagnosis and has lost much of the vision in her left eye. Now aged two, she still has to have regular check ups at the Royal London Hospital but doctors are pleased with her progress.

One year anniversary

In August 2017, on the first anniversary of Maeve’s cancer diagnosis, dad Paul Calver, 37, decided to sign up to the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise funds and awareness for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), which supported the family.

Paul, from Brixton, London, said: “My wife Victoria and I had never heard of retinoblastoma before Maeve was diagnosed and we had no idea that the symptoms were so subtle yet potentially easy for parents to spot. By raising the profile of this little known cancer we hope that we can make other parents aware of the signs.”

Dad-of-two Paul added: “We took Maeve to the GP because she had a turn in her eye but we just assumed that she would need glasses. The GP wasn’t too concerned and referred us to the eye department of a local hospital, which took three months. As far as we know, our GP wasn’t aware of retinoblastoma or the red reflex test, which is a simple check that can spot the signs of eye cancer. Most people don’t know that a squint can be a symptom.

“It wasn’t until the hospital appointment that we realised there might be something seriously wrong. A week later we were at the Royal London Hospital being seen by the specialist retinoblastoma team and a week after that Maeve was at Great Ormond Street Hospital to begin chemotherapy.”

Maeve has now finished chemotherapy and is doing really well. Paul said: “She is a very happy, energetic young girl who loves spending time with her older sister Etta and playing football. Her hair has grown back and you really wouldn’t know anything was wrong. She is just a normal little girl.”

Celebrating Maeve’s recovery

Paul, who is a running newbie, has been training for the marathon since October and, despite pulling a muscle and being out of action for two months, he is now fighting fit and looking forward to the big day.

He said: “Running the marathon is a celebration of Maeve’s recovery and a way to make other parents aware of retinoblastoma. Maeve has been heavily involved in my training and has even given me her beloved Peter Rabbit toy to make my leg feel better.”

Patrick Tonks, Chief Executive of CHECT, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to hear how well Maeve is doing and that Paul has decided to take part in the London Marathon for us. We would like to wish him the very best of luck and we’ll be there on the day to cheer him on.”

If you would like to sponsor Paul, you can donate via his Virgin Money fundraising page.

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