Dad thought son might die from rare eye cancer

Basingstoke Gazette: Sundaraajah Ketheeswaran and his son Yoadey Buy this photo » Sundaraajah Ketheeswaran and his son Yoadey

“WE had felt that we may lose him” – that was the very real fear of a Basingstoke father whose young son was diagnosed with an incredibly rare form of cancer.

Three-year-old Yoadey-Athithya Ketheeswaran was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer that affects about 50 children under the age of five each year in the UK.

His father Sundararajah Ketheeswaran – known as Kethes – from Black Dam spoke of his only son’s ordeal as part of a fundraising drive by Basingstoke Vision Express for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

Yoadey was diagnosed with cancer of his retina in his right eye in October last year after his parents noticed he was squinting.

He was referred by his GP to see a specialist at Basingstoke hospital, but faced a two-month wait for the appointment.

His concerned father, who is an IT engineer at Basingstoke hospital, decided to conduct his own research online, where he found out about retinoblastoma.

He decided to see a specialist at private hospital BMI The Hampshire Clinic, in Old Basing, where a consultant immediately referred Yoadey to a specialist eye clinic at the Royal London Hospital.

Doctors noticed one of the key signs of retinoblastoma, which is when the eye reflects white to bright light – as opposed to red in healthy eyes.

The family was given the news that Yoadey would have to lose his eye to stop the cancer spreading.

“It was a horrible thing to find out,” said 37-year-old Kethes. “Because it was in an advanced stage, they had to remove the eye to prevent the cancer spreading to other parts of his body.”

The family had to wait two months before they had confirmation that the cancer had not spread to other parts of Yoadey’s body.

“It was a great relief,” said Kethes. “We finally felt that we had him back. We had felt that we may lose him.”

Now Yoadey, who attends Little Ducklings pre-school, in Black Dam, is learning to live with a glass eye. Although he is not allowed to go swimming or play contact sports, he bears no visible scars from his operation.

Kethes said he is grateful to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust which supported the family, and even sent a representative to stay with them during Yoadey’s operation.

“They have been very supportive of us. Someone came every day to talk to us, and that was very helpful.”

The charity is this year being supported by Vision Express. Last year, the company donated £45,500 to the charity.

Jack Burford, assistant store manager at the St John’s Walk branch, said: “Yoadey is so polite, brave, and is really quite inspirational.”

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