Parents fear rare cancer could cost Skylah-Mae’s sight

Gemma Bawn, Skylah-Mae and Craig Vaillant
Gemma Bawn, Skylah-Mae and Craig Vaillant

A baby living with multiple tumours in both of her eyes is in danger of losing her sight after being diagnosed with a rare form of retina cancer.

Skylah-Mae, of Bletchley, was dignosed with retinoblastoma in October last year and has since gone through six courses of chemotheraphy to stop the cancer spreading.

But just three weeks ago, during a monthly hospital check up, doctors found the ten-month-old’s tumour has continued to grow.

Her parents, 20-year-old Craig Vaillant and Gemma Bawn, of Surrey Road, say they have been told Skylah-Mae is the only child in Milton Keynes to be suffering with retinoblastoma in both eyes but insist she keeps them strong.

Craig said: “When we got the diagnosis we were quite numb because as much as you try to prepare yourself, when you find out your daughter has cancer it is a big shock.

Gemma added: “Not only did we find out that she had cancer, but she had it in both eyes and there is a possibility she will lose her eye, so it was a lot to take in.

“You want your child to be perfect, so you start questioning why her? Why does she have to have cancer?”

“She was starting to be on the mend,” Craig said.

“She was looking more lively and so we thought everything was good, but they found more seeds in the eye, which was a real breakdown for us.”

Every month Skylah-Mae is put under anesthetic to undergo tests, and as well as enduring chemotheraphy and laser treatment, she went through chemoembolisation on Tuesday, which means a tube is inserted from the groin up to the eye - all at the same time as going through teething.

Gemma said: “Obviously you have your time to cry, but then you have to be strong becuase she is so happy and smiley. She just makes you happy; she doesn’t show she is in pain.

“It’s hard because she’s a baby, so she has her days of being moany and you worry that it’s to do with her eyes.

“We don’t know how much she can see. They have tried putting a patch on her eye with the smaller mass to help strengthen her right eye, but she was panicking because she couldn’t see.

“It made me cry because I hadn’t realised how little she could see from that eye.”

Craig added: “It has been so hard to sit back and watch her go through pain and not be able to help her.

“You feel helpless.”

Gemma added: “I think Skylah-Mae keeps us going; looking at her everyday and knowing what she’s going through, why should we be down about it because she is our strength. Looking at her makes us strong, we know we need to get on with our day, why should we mope around - we’re not the ones with cancer, she is.”

The former Stantonbury Campus students have been together for four years and are now both back at work, as well as trying to care for Skylah-Mae and planning a fundraising event to raise money for Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

Gemma, who works as a health care assistant for dementia patients, said: “I love my job and it is nice to have a bit of a break when I go to work so I can get away from the hospitals and just be normal, get my sanity back and then come home and care for Skylah-Mae.

“We’re raising money for CECT because we want to give back so that they can continue to give support to people going through something similar to us.”

The fundraising event is on May 24 at 7pm at Denbigh Hall Sports and Social Club in Bletchley, where the pair will put on a buffet and a DJ with hopes to raise £1000 with a raffle.