Three sisters have received prestigious awards in recognition of the courage and bravery they displayed while one of them battled with the effects of an extremely rare form of cancer.
In 2000 Megan Thomas from Patcham, Brighton, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer which affects the retina of children predominantly under the age of six years old.
Megan was just three months old at the time with tumours in both eyes. Although doctors were able to save her left eye, the right eye had to be removed in order to save her life. Megan now wears an artificial eye and has over the years continued to have her progress monitored to ensure that the cancer has not returned.
Despite the day to day challenges which face Megan, who is now 18 and a student at Varndean College in Brighton, she strives to live life to the full with help from her two younger sisters, Grace (12) and Katie (6), who both provide their older sibling with unrelenting support.
In recognition of Megan, Grace and Katie’s outstanding efforts in the face of adversity all three children have been named as CHECT Champions. 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.
“Ever since she was first diagnosed Megan has shown nothing but determination, strength, courage and bravery,” says proud mum Anna Thomas.
“It all started when she was still a baby and we noticed how the pupil in her right eye wasn’t black, as it should be. We took her to the doctors and from there she was referred to Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton. Once it became clear how serious it was then the journeys to St Barts (St Bartholomew’s Hospital) in London began.
“It is quite incredible how she coped with the treatment and what came next, learning to remove her false eye from as early as one-year old. She’s gone on to get amazing grades at GCSE and is now entering her second year at sixth-form college. She never shies away from answering questions about her eye and has done lots of fundraising for CHECT, helping to raise awareness into Rb at the same time.”
“Megan had finished her treatment by the time Grace and Katie were born,” adds dad Chris Thomas. “That’s never stopped her two younger sisters from being incredibly supportive and understanding about Megan’s condition. They are all amazing girls and we are so proud of them. They are a perfect example of how all the obstacles that life throws at you can never get in the way of sisterly love.”
“Megan has been through so much over the years but, with Grace and Katie there to support her, she has shown remarkable levels of courage and resilience,” says Patrick Tonks, chief executive of CHECT.
“Rb causes an immense amount of upset and disruption but they have absolutely refused to let things get on top of them. All three sisters are thoroughly deserving champions.”