Rose Lucking-Elhitmi was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (rb), a cancer which affects the retina of children predominantly under six years old, when she was still only six months old.
Tests revealed that Rose had cancer in her right eye, with the early signs of tumours also appearing in her left. Although doctors were able to successfully treat the left eye, Rose’s right eye (in which she has no vision) still contains the tumour which, because of its precarious position, will remain there for the rest of her life.
In recognition of her outstanding effort and bravery, Rose has been named a CHECT Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), receiving a medal and framed certificate this week. The CHECT Champion awards aim to recognise the courage, resilience and patience shown by all children affected by retinoblastoma throughout treatment and beyond.
“Rose has been through so much more than most children her age yet she is kind, friendly, playful and helpful,” says proud mum Suzannah Lucking. “Everyone loves her wherever she goes and she’s a pure delight to be around.
“It all started when we were on holiday in the Lake District. My husband, Youssef, had been taking some pictures and we kept seeing this white reflective object in Rose’s right eye. It was in every picture. We made an appointment to see the doctor as soon as we got home and were then referred to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. After that came the diagnosis which is when everything became a bit of a blur. Hearing that your six-month old child has cancer just turns your life upside down.
“Rose has since spent most of her early years in hospital. When she hasn’t been in hospital she’s often been poorly at home and unable to do the kind of things that other children do. We’ve tried to keep life as normal as possible for her but she was so susceptible to infections that we had to limit her activities. But her resilience never ceases to amaze us. She’s a strong, independent, resourceful young lady, always positive and happy if a bit headstrong! We are so very, very proud of her.”
“Every child affected by retinoblastoma faces huge disruption, upset and distressing treatment not to mention follow-on check-ups,” says Patrick Tonks, chief executive of CHECT.
“We are delighted to recognise the courage, resilience and resourcefulness shown by Rose throughout her treatment. She really is a thoroughly deserving champion.”