Olivia’s brave eye cancer battle

Jane Harrison and her daughter Olivia Harrison (four) from Armthorpe.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Jane Harrison and her daughter Olivia Harrison (four) from Armthorpe. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Starting school is a daunting time for any child but for four-year-old Olivia Harrison the challenges are even greater.

For Olivia has had to learn to cope without her right eye after losing it to retinoblastoma - a rare eye cancer when she was just a baby.

Despite undergoing four bouts of chemotherapy Olivia’s right eye had to be removed and a replaced with an artificial eye.

But the youngster has not let it hold her back and is settling into school at Southfield Primary in Armthorpe.

Proud mum Jane, 38, of Armthorpe said: “She’s very confident and outgoing and she’s got a real can-do attitude. She doesn’t let this hold her back, she is very resilient.

“Olivia sees in 2D so she has no depth perception and sometimes I worry when she’s charging about the house but she’s fine. To look at her you wouldn’t even know.

“Olivia wears glasses to correct a sight problem in her other eye and even the optician didn’t realise she had an artificial eye.”

Olivia was just three and a half months old when mum Jane realised something may be wrong by sheer coincidence.

Jane was visiting friends in Halifax and couldn’t fit Olivia’s baby bath in the car.

Jane said: “We put Olivia in the big bath instead and she loved it splashing about in there so I thought I’m not going to use the baby bath anymore.”

But when Jane bathed Olivia at home the halogen spotlights in her bathroom highlighted the problem.

Jane said: “I was looking down at Olivia and it looked as though she had a white pupil.

“It was something you couldn’t see at all in normal light and could only see at a certain angle under the spotlights.”

After trips back and forth to the doctor Jane was given the heartbreaking news that Olivia had cancer.

“It was the one and only time I cried over all of this. It was such a shock. We had been told it may be a cataract but then here was someone telling me it was cancer. It was so hard but we wanted to be strong for Olivia.” Jane is now determined to raise awareness and money for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust to help other families.