WHEN the parents of a little Isle of Wight boy discovered he had a rare type of eye cancer, it turned their world upside down.


Megan Brimson spotted an unusual glow in her five-year-old son Arlo’s eye in August last year.   

Isle of Wight County Press: The Brimson family — from left: Richard, Reuben, Arlo, Megan and Norah.The Brimson family — from left: Richard, Reuben, Arlo, Megan and Norah. (Image: Megan Brimson)

The next day, her sister, Gemma Young, who was caring for him, called Megan concerned that Arlo's eye appeared completely white in direct sunlight.

Megan, 35 weeks' pregnant at the time, was advised to seek medical help and so took Arlo straight to St Mary's Hospital, Newport, where tests were carried out.

It didn't take doctors long to discover something was seriously wrong with the youngster. 

How to find out more about retinoblastoma

For more information on the signs, symptoms, and treatment of retinoblastoma, please follow this link.

Megan initially thought it was cataract, so was shocked to learn there was large, 4cm-sized mass at the back of Arlo’s eye was discovered and an emergency referral was made for him to go to the Royal London Hospital. 

During his assessment, the surgeon broke the tragic news Arlo had a rare cancer (retinoblastoma) and was unable to see out of his right eye — a condition he had lived with for between six months and a year.

"When they said he had cancer, all I could think of was 'oh my baby, oh my baby'," Megan adds.

Isle of Wight County Press: Arlo after his major eye operation.Arlo after his major eye operation. (Image: Megan Brimson)

Typical signs of retinoblastoma include a white glow, which appears in certain lights, as well as a change in the eye's appearance.   

Around one baby or young child is diagnosed with it each week in the UK, with symptoms often tricky to diagnose.

They needed to remove Arlo's eye — carried out a week after it was spotted and diagnosed.

Megan, of Arctic Road, Cowes, said: "I was pregnant and extremely emotional. My husband, Richard, was my rock throughout it all."

Arlo needed four rounds of chemotherapy at Southampton General Hospital.

Megan added: “After Arlo’s operation, he was so strong. His working eye was very swollen and the chemotherapy was really hard on him. He was very sick, but took it in his stride.

"Watching him go through chemotherapy was very hard.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Arlo with his mum, Megan.Arlo with his mum, Megan. (Image: Megan Brimson)

But plucky Arlo, who turns six next month, has recovered well from his horrific ordeal, with a new prosthetic eye.

"Arlo’s sight had been gone for some time, so he's already got used to sight loss,” continued Megan.

“Arlo is doing so well. We're so incredibly proud of him. He's a very bouncy, loud, loving and funny little boy. He’s always playing tricks — mostly on me.

" He loves music and dancing and is obsessed with Pokémon — a lifeline for him at appointments.

"He's back at school and loving it. His big brother, Reuben, is his best friend and such a good big brother to him — always making sure he's okay there.”

The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust has been supporting Arlo and his family throughout.

The charity has helped them with anything from financial issues and providing a support worker, to connecting them with parents of other retinoblastoma patients.