This week, 7 – 14 May, is Retinoblastoma Awareness Week.
Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer which can most commonly be found in babies and young children and is often spotted by having a white pupil. The condition can cause people to lose one or both eyes, and has significant psychological and physical impact.
Sixth Form student Samih has been blind from the age of 2 due to Retinoblastoma. “It can feel quite isolating because people with Retinoblastoma are a minority within the vision impaired community. There are two types of Retinoblastoma – one is unilateral which affects only one eye, and the second is bilateral which affects both eyes.
“When Retinoblastoma was found first in my right eye, medical professionals realised that both my eyes had to be removed. Since the age of about 3 when the surgeries for both eyes and the treatments were finished, I started to wear prosthetics. Part of the treatment I experienced was radiation and chemotherapy as these were the next steps to try and prevent the cancer from coming back.
The condition isn’t necessarily genetic as some people can just have it and no one knows how. However, my Retinoblastoma was due to a genetic mutation which leaves me prone to any other cancer. I have also undergone treatment for thyroid cancer at around 11.
My personal experience has taught me not to beat myself up for the things I can’t change. It has taught me that life is too short not to have fun with friends, family and the people around me while also juggling school and whatever life throws at me!”