A three-year-old girl from Oxfordshire has received a prestigious award in recognition of the courage she has shown while battling against a rare form of cancer.
Isabella Goodale was just 10 weeks old when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in her left eye. Two days later, it was confirmed that she also had a tumour in her right eye. When retinoblastoma is in both eyes, it is called bilateral.
It was the news her parents Corina and Darran Goodale had feared after being warned that she had a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the mutated gene due to her family history.
Corina, 34, who also had retinoblastoma which left her with zero vision in one eye and reduced vision in the other, said: “Darran and I couldn’t believe it at first as we were very much hoping that she would be in the other 50 per cent. Nevertheless, we were somewhat prepared that this might happen and, although we were scared at the prospect of the treatment Isabella would need, we were determined from the start to do everything we could to make sure the doctors could work with Isabella and help her beat this.”
Isabella started two months of laser therapy treatment soon after she was diagnosed, in April 2013. Fortunately, as the cancer was caught so early, she narrowly avoided needing chemotherapy and she also managed to retain the vision in both of her eyes. In many cases, children will lose an eye in order to stop the cancer spreading.
Now aged three, Isabella is doing really well and has just become a proud big sister to Michaella, aged 12 weeks, who is currently undergoing treatment for retinoblastoma herself at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, one of two specialist centres in the UK.
In recognition of her outstanding bravery, Isabella has been named a CHECT Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. The CHECT Champion awards aim to recognise the courage, resilience and patience shown by all children affected by retinoblastoma throughout treatment and beyond.
Corina said: “Isabella is so brave and fearless. She has never complained and she is so determined and perseverant in everything she does. I think this is why she was so successful in beating the cancer and staying in remission.
“Isabella is a kind, caring, loving and happy little girl who is full of energy and always up to mischief. She loves going to preschool, playing with the other children and happily interacting with the teachers. She also loves water – bath time, jumping in puddles, playing in the water tray at preschool and especially going to the swimming pool with her daddy.”
Corina added: “Isabella is doing an excellent job of being a big sister to Michaella. She helps mummy and daddy with cooking and tidying up, as well as with her littler sister who she loves at lot. We are so proud of Isabella.”
Around one child a week is diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the UK and around 45 per cent have the heritable form. Symptoms include a white glow in a child’s eye, seen in dim lighting or in a photo when a flash has been used, and squint.
Patrick Tonks, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: “A diagnosis of retinoblastoma can cause huge disruption to a child’s life as they endure invasive examinations, treatment and ongoing check ups for some time afterwards. I am always filled with awe when I see the strength and bravery that children like Isabella show in the face of all this.
“We are delighted to recognise the courage, resilience and resourcefulness shown by Isabella. She really is a thoroughly deserving champion.”