A five-year-old boy from Rhyl has received a prestigious award in recognition of the courage he has shown while battling against an extremely rare form of cancer.

Ethan was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer which affects the retina of children predominantly under six-years-old, in November 2017 when he was only a few days old.

Tests revealed that Ethan had tumours in both of his eyes. He underwent treatment (including chemotherapy) in London to save his life by reducing the size of those tumours which proved successful. However, he continues to undergo regular check-ups to ensure that they haven’t grown or spread.

Ethan smiling at a CHECT event

Despite everything he has been through, Ethan loves life and lives it to the best of his abilities, with help from his mum Kim who also had retinoblastoma as a child, resulting in the removal of one of her eyes as part of her treatment.

In recognition of his outstanding efforts and bravery, Ethan has been named a CHECT Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT).

The CHECT Champion Awards aim to recognise the courage, resilience and patience shown by all children affected by retinoblastoma (often referred to as Rb for short) throughout treatment and beyond.

“Retinoblastoma is unfortunately one of those things that can get passed on genetically, so there was always a risk that if I ever had children, then they might have it,” says Kim.

“Ethan was tested as soon as he was born and we were told on day four that he had the gene. A few days after that came confirmation that he had tumours in both eyes. Three weeks later he was starting his chemotherapy. It all happened so quickly.

“It’s been a long road from that point until now, but Ethan has done so well. He only has peripheral vision in his left eye due to the size of the tumour, whereas the right eye contains smaller tumours which means his vision in that eye is good enough for him to lead a relatively normal life.

Baby Ethan with his sister and mum

“Ethan really is an amazing boy having had so much to deal with at such a young age. He’s a star, he really is, and I’m extremely proud of him.”

Ethan has already received his CHECT Champion medal and a framed certificate in recognition of his immense courage in the face of adversity.

CHECT has three vital missions – to offer one-to-one support for families and individuals affected by retinoblastoma, to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms to prompt earlier diagnosis, and to help fund research into the disease.

“So often, children affected by retinoblastoma face huge disruption, upset and distressing treatment not to mention follow-on check-ups,” says Richard Ashton, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

“We are delighted to recognise the wonderful courage and resilience shown by Ethan throughout his treatment and beyond. He really is a thoroughly deserving champion.

Baby Ethan is being held by Eastenders actor Shane Ritchie

“While retinoblastoma is a rare cancer, we urge all parents to be aware of the symptoms and to have their child checked out if they have any concerns at all. The most common signs are a white glow in the eye which is visible in certain lighting or a flash photo, or a squint (lazy eye).”

Adds Kim, “If any parent senses that something isn’t right with their child’s sight, then get it checked out. It might be nothing, or it might be something. It’s always best to be on the safe side.”

A huge thank you to Kim and Ethan for working with CHECT to gain a lot of national press (including the BBC!) to share the signs of symptoms of Rb and their story. To learn more about the genetic nature of retinoblastoma, visit our genetics page. Remember, our support team are here at help – contact CHECT at support@chect.org.uk or 020 7377 5578.