thumbnail :  A youngster who suffers from a rare form of cancer has won an award more than a decade after her parents discovered she had the...

* When A Mother Posted A Photo Of Her Baby Online, A Friend Spotted A Worrying Reflection In Her Eye * When A Mother Posted A Photo Of Her Baby Online, A Friend Spotted A Worrying Reflection In Her Eye

* When A Mother Posted A Photo Of Her Baby Online, A Friend Spotted A Worrying Reflection In Her Eye

* When A Mother Posted A Photo Of Her Baby Online, A Friend Spotted A Worrying Reflection In Her Eye

thumbnail : 












A youngster who suffers from a rare form of cancer has won an award more than a decade after her parents discovered she had the disease by reading the Daily Mirror.

Derry couple Elaine and Seamus McClafferty spotted the cancer hiding in their baby girl’s eye after they saw a photo in the paper about a rare cancer that begins in the retina.

The article on September 1, 2008, featured a baby from the US, Rowan Santos, who was suffering with an eye condition.

According to the article, the baby was saved after “a mum with no medical training spotted the unusual shadow in the left eye of the one-year-old simply by looking at a photo sent by her mum”.

Suspecting there was something wrong, Madeline Robb went on to the internet to find out more and discovered it might be cancer.


She immediately emailed Rowan’s mum Megan at her home in Florida, America, to warn her.

Within hours, Mrs Santos had taken the baby to a doctor, who found she had eye cancer retinoblastoma.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Elaine said it came as a “shock” to all the family when Brooke was diagnosed with the same condition at just seven weeks old.


Brooke's parents Elaine and Seamus were alert to retinoblastoma after reading the September 1, 2008 edition of the Daily Mirror NI

She said: “We couldn’t believe it. It all came about by pure chance. We had noticed this strange reflection coming from her eye when she was only a few weeks old.

“I would never buy newspapers but my husband Seamus would buy one now and again and it was just by chance he had decided to buy the issue.

“We knew straight away that the photo of Rowan in the picture is what our Brooke was suffering from. 

“We took her straight to the GP and he told us that our initial fears were right.

“Brooke was also diagnosed with retinoblastoma and we had to take her to Belfast and Dublin for treatment.”

Specialists say their extraordinary detective work most likely saved their daughter’s life.

After two years of treatment, including weekly sessions in Dublin, consultants decided to act to stop the cancer spreading, resulting in Brooke having her eye removed.

The operation left the St Cecilia’s student blind, with the 12-year-old now using a cane to
navigate daily life.

Elaine said: “The danger of the cancer spreading to her brain was quite high so we had no choice but to act in her best interest, it was spreading quite rapidly.

“Not long after her second round of chemotherapy we took her to Florida and while we were there we met up with Rowan and her mum.

Brooke McClafferty and Rowan Santos in Florida in 2012

“I was nervous how Brooke would react, but for two kids that never met before they got on so well, they just loved each other’s company. That’s when we snapped the picture of the two of them holding hands, it was so lovely to have that moment.

“Without reading that article in the Daily Mirror I think it would have been a really different scenario today.

“It saved her life, me and her dad have no doubts about that.”

The two families regularly keep in contact with one another to this day.

“It’s nice that we have created that relationship and sort of bond,” said Elaine.

Brooke McClafferty with Mum Elaine, Dad Seamus, Brother Cianan and Sister Jade

Brooke’s cancer battle has led the youngster to raise hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research UK.

The Derry girl has also been named as Young Volunteer of The Year at the charity’s annual Flame of Hope Awards which celebrate the outstanding achievements of their fundraisers.

Elaine said: “This has been such a confidence boost for her.


“We are so proud of her as a family, she has even started her own page now to try and raise more money for the charity.

“Everybody that meets Brooke always has good things to say. She just has this wee way about her that makes her so special and we are so grateful to have a daughter like her.”

Legenderry Relay for Life co-chairs Sean Hickey and Laura Moore are pictured helping Brooke celebrate.

Brooke is raising money for Cancer Research UK to help find a cure for the disease.

0 commentaires: