Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dark Secret Revealed by a Flaw in a Photograph

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dark Secret Revealed by a Flaw in a Photograph

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Davies Chief Reporter

AN alert mother spotted the signs of a tumour in her son's eye as she looked at pictures taken on a family day out.

As 20-month-old Zak Sutherland's mum Stacey browsed through pictures of her four children on board the Polar Express she noticed that the flash had shown up a white pupil in her youngest son's eye.

Concerned by what she saw, the mum-of-four contacted medics and Zak was later diagnosed with retinoblastoma - a rare type of eye cancer that affects children under five.

The youngster is now undergoing laser eye treatment and a gruelling course of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour.

And medics have praised Stacey - who could have saved Zak's eye and his life.

"We went on the Polar Express and I noticed his left eye had a flashing white mark," said Stacey, a full-time mum to Evan, six, Tyler, four, Jonah, three, and Zak.

"I went through the other symptoms, as he also had a twitch, and I knew something wasn't right."

Stacey and her husband John, 35, a finance assistant, took Zak to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary and he was later transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where he was diagnosed.

Stacey, of Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham, said: "It was just awful, we weren't expecting anything like that.

"To be told something like that sends you into a state of shock. It was just so surreal.

"When you're in that situation everything just happens so quick. You don't really have time to think about things."

Following the diagnosis Zak was fitted with a portacath before undergoing a session of chemotherapy and laser eye surgery.

Zak must return to the hospital in Birmingham every four to six weeks to continue his treatment.

Stacey said: "The more time goes by the more positive feedback we are getting. It's just one of those things. It is still early days but you have got to be hopeful. …

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