A 10-year-old boy from Leyland in Lancashire has received a prestigious award in recognition of the courage he has shown while battling against an extremely rare form of cancer.

Samuel was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer which affects the retina of children predominantly under six years old, in 2014 when he was just 18 months old.

Tests at the Royal Preston Hospital revealed that Samuel had a large tumour in his right eye. The extent of the cancer meant doctors at the specialist Birmingham Children’s Hospital had to remove the eye in order to save his life.

Samuel now wears an artificial eye which he is able to take out and clean all by himself. His left eye, fortunately, remains healthy.

Despite everything he has been through, Samuel loves life and lives it to the best of his abilities. He has even fundraised to help the prevention and treatment of retinoblastoma, encouraging pupils at his school to take part in a ‘Crazy Glasses Day’ in which children wear wacky specs in exchange for a donation.

In recognition of his outstanding efforts and bravery, Samuel 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.

“It was my husband, Iskender, who first noticed what appeared to be a shadow across Samuel’s eye when he was putting him to bed one evening,” says mum Nicky Levent. “We thought we had better get it checked out, just in case, and that led to him being diagnosed in Preston.

“Within two days we were at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Samuel had an examination under anaesthetic which revealed the extent of the tumour. Just three days after that, he had the operation to remove the eye. It was all just a complete whirlwind.

Sam is wearing a santa hat and Father Christmas jumper and smiling in a star shape

“It’s been a long road from that point until now for all of us. When he was smaller, Samuel didn’t like lots of people around him which meant he struggled at times with his treatment, which included chemotherapy. Now, however, he’s much more confident and can even take his artificial eye out to clean and put it back in again. He’s also great at his eye appointments which he goes to every six months, just to make sure his artificial eye still fits him as he grows.

“Samuel 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 as parents we’re extremely proud of him.”

Samuel 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 Samuel throughout his treatment and beyond. He really is a thoroughly deserving champion.

“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).”

We want to extend a huge thank you to Samuel and his mum Nicky for working with CHECT to get great national press across TV, radio and online, including the BBC news! Remember, our support team are here at help – contact CHECT at support@chect.org.uk or 020 7377 5578.