Matilda, a two-year-old daughter of Preston, rings Christmas bells to celebrate the absence of cancer


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The Fishwick area tot in Preston was finally able to carry on the tradition of ringing the end-of-treatment bell, after the pandemic prevented her from doing so in hospital.

She was only 10 months old when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma – a tumor in the back of her left eye – in March of last year.

>>> Click here to read how a family photo identified Mathilde’s cancer.

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Mathilde rings the Christmas bell

It was just as the pandemic hit the UK, and the country was placed on lockdown, meaning that as they accepted the news of their daughter’s diagnosis, Beth Bretherton and Jonny Farley had to choose. which of them was with her in the hospital.

“It was really tough having just one authorized parent,” said Beth, 24, also mom to Lucas, six.

“I was the one who ended up going there, I just couldn’t bear not being there and not knowing all the information.”

The one parent policy at Birmingham and Manchester Children’s Hospitals continued throughout Matilda’s treatment, which included six rounds of chemotherapy, laser treatment, blood transfusion and numerous antibiotics.

The family photo that alerted Mathilde’s family to a problem

She received the green light in November 2020.

Beth said, “We wanted (ringing the bell) to be a big thing, but her dad wasn’t allowed to be there for it.

“So doing it now, with the Christmas bell, was something very special. It was a very emotional moment.

“This marks her first year without cancer, and our first real Christmas is very special.”

Mathilde Farley, 2

“It started when she was only three months old,” Beth said. “I noticed a glint in his left eye. You could see it in the photos.

“I took her to the doctor and they kept putting me off, saying she was fine. I kept mentioning her, but it wasn’t until after her eight-month checkup that they referred her to a specialist. “

The family waited another two months for an appointment and on the same day it was learned that doctors could see a lump in the back of his left eye – a tumor.

Mathilde with her older brother Lucas, mum Beth and dad Jonny

Beth said: “As a parent you hear cancer and think about the worst. But I’ve been told the odds are good. Matilda’s tumor was in the middle of her eye, it was close to the optic nerve, but did not touch it. “

Mathilde was able to keep her left eye, but remained blind there.

She started nursery school in September and is finally enjoying being able to play with other children – something she couldn’t do during her treatment because her immune system was so weak.

Beth said, “She’s made of steel this girl, she’s so strong. I would say she’s more outgoing than most of the other kids.”

Now that she has been cancer free for a year, her family say they are finally able to enjoy Christmas and are eagerly awaiting a new chapter in her life – which also includes a new baby due in March.

Beth said, “We have now gone the first year cancer free. It has been a little scary coming to this, because there is always a worry that it will come back.

“But now we feel like we can move on. It’s a whole new chapter for us and we can be normal and our Christmas day will be normal because it wasn’t last year.

“Can’t wait to have a huge buffet and the kids to play all day.”

There is a national campaign called “Know The Glow” which points out that a glow in a child’s eyes in a photograph could be an indicator of over 20 different eye diseases and conditions.

To control your child, take pictures with the flash on and red-eye reduction off.

Look for the “glow” which is a white, opaque, or yellow spot in the pupil of one or both eyes.

If you see the “glow” once, be alert. But if you see it twice in the same eye, see your doctor or eye doctor.

And advise other parents to check, too.

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