When Lisa Butler took a photograph of her six-month old daughter Grace, she noticed a strange white light in one of her eyes.
Miss Butler took her daughter to her health visitor, convinced that something was wrong. She was told her daughter?s eye was developing and there was nothing wrong.
The photo which may have saved Grace’s life: the white light in her eye is light reflecting off a cancerous tumour
But she was convinced that something wasn?t right – and she took Grace to see her local doctor, who referred her straight to hospital.
Grace was diagnosed with retinoblastoma – a childhood eye cancer – thanks to the photograph that saved her life.
Miss Butler, 34, a call centre operator, who lives with partner Alan Rushton, 37, who himself is an opthalmic technician, said: “We knew that something wasn’t right with Grace?s eye. When we saw the white flicker in her eye on the photographs, it didn?t look right.
“Even though the health visitor said her eye was just developing, I wasn?t happy with what she had said, and finally the doctor diagnosed the cancer.
“It was lucky that we spotted the problem when we did – thanks to the photograph – as the tumour was already large behind her eye.”
Grace was born on Valentine’s Day 2004, weighing six pounds eleven ounces, at Hope Hospital in Manchester.
he was fine until she reached four months old – and then Miss Butler started to notice a flickering in her right eye.
She said: “It looked like a cats eye at night. I saw it again a few days later and I took Grace to see the health visitor as I was worried.
“But she told me that her eyes were still developing and it was just a reflection of the light.
“I felt a little reassurred after that – but Alan wasn?t happy. He works as an opthalmic technician, making lenses, and he wasn?t happy about her eye.”
Eight weeks later the couple took the happy smiling picture of their daughter in the bath – and noticed the strange flicker again in her right eye.
They went back to the clinic and Grace was referred to an eye specialist for tests, but before they could attend the appointment, Miss Butler went to see her local doctor as Grace had also come down with a cold.
Miss Butler said: “He examined Grace and asked what was the matter with her eye. He was worried as he thought it may be a cataract. He referred us to the eye clinic at Bolton Hospital straight away.
“I was just frightened that she was going to go blind – but I never imagined it would be anything as terrible as cancer.” Grace was examined at Bolton Hospital, and then she was referred to Birmingham Childrens Hospital. They telephoned Miss Butler the same day and told her that Grace had retinoblastoma, a rare childhood eye cancer.
She said: “I was so shocked I couldn?t believe what I was hearing. The flicker that we?d seen in her eye was the light reflecting off the tumour.
“We were just devastated. The consultant told us that Grace had a good chance of surviving as we had thankfully caught it early.
“But because the tumour was so big, there was no chance of saving her eye.”
Tests showed that Grace had gone blind in her eye approximately at the age of five months due to the tumour growing.
Miss Butler said: “She had just adapted to it, so we hadn?t noticed her sight deteriorating.
“I?d never heard of this cancer before – so we just couldn?t believe it was happening to our daughter.
“Im just so thankful that we had that picture to warn us what was happening. If we hadn?t, then she may not have survived.”
Grace underwent a three-hour operation to remove her eye in February 2005 – just after her first birthday – at Birmingham Childrens Hospital.
It was a success and she didn?t need chemotherapy as the cancer hadn?t spread.
Miss Butler said: “She recovered really well after the operation and was allowed home two days later.
“She was too little to explain to her what had happened. Because she was already blind in that eye, she didn?t really notice that it had gone. Even straight after the operation she was sat up smiling.”
Grace had a false eye fitted a week after the operation and she has regular check-ups to check the cancer doesn?t appear in the other eye.
Miss Butler said: “She has made a full recovery and so far the cancer hasn?t returned. She will have a check up every few months until she is five years old.
“She?s doing really well now and we just feel so lucky that it was caught in time and we still have our daughter with us.
“I?m just so thankful that we took lots of photographs of her – it helped to save her life.”