Doncaster eye cancer survivor, 7, helps to launch awareness campaign

Jane Harrison and her daughter Olivia, seven, CHECT Ambassador, pictured with Viktor Tulev, Optical Apprentice, during the  launch the stores Sunglasses giveaway during World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week.
Jane Harrison and her daughter Olivia, seven, CHECT Ambassador, pictured with Viktor Tulev, Optical Apprentice, during the launch the stores Sunglasses giveaway during World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week.
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A brave Doncaster schoolgirl, who battled a rare form of eye cancer, is helping to raise awareness of the condition by campaigning for a national charity.

Olivia Harrison, of Armthorpe, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both of her eyes when she was just a baby.

She underwent gruelling chemotherapy and laser therapy, as well as lifesaving surgery to remove one of her eyes. Despite her early setbacks in life, inspirational Olivia does not let anything get in her way, and wears her artificial eye with pride.

And now the youngster is also helping to rally support for The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) through the launch of a sunglasses giveaway with Vision Express Doncaster to mark World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week.

The initiative was in support of CHECT’s #inthedark campaign to raise awareness of the signs of the disease.

Olivia’s mum Jane Harrison said of the event: “It all went really well and Olivia had a lot of fun.

“She always enjoys doing things to raise awareness and this event was no different – she was her normal, larger than life self.”

The initiative follows research commissioned by CHECT for World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week, which reveals that less than one in three parents have ever had their child’s eyes checked.

The research also found that over half of parents unaware that children could get eye cancer Margaret Maughan and Olivia Harrison with Vision Express Doncaster team members.

Patrick Tonks, chief executive of CHECT, said: “For too long retinoblastoma has been shrouded in darkness – children are left in the dark because some or all of their vision has been stolen and parents and healthcare professionals are in the dark because of a lack of awareness.

“Parents usually know when their little one is unwell but with retinoblastoma children often seem perfectly happy and healthy so it’s much harder to spot.

“We want all parents to be ‘eye aware’ and to take their child to see a health professional if they have any concerns at all.

“Retinoblastoma is rare and symptoms like a squint or white eye are often nothing to worry about but they should always be checked to rule out anything serious.”

Vision Express Doncaster’s store manager Margaret Maughan added: “It was an honour to welcome Olivia to the store, to support our fundraising and share her personal experience of eye cancer. It’s a great morale boost for the team to do something meaningful for such a good cause, and is a great way for Vision Express to let people know about the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect against UV damage too.”