Essex eye cancer survivor Bella-Rose, three, given award for her bravery

Lauren O'Neill's daughter Bella-Rose Baxter, who has retinoblastoma, has been named a CHECT Champion

Lauren O'Neill's daughter Bella-Rose Baxter, who has retinoblastoma, has been named a CHECT Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. - Credit: Su Anderson

A three-year-old girl from north Essex who had an eye removed after having cancer has been named a charity champion in recognition of her bravery.

Lauren O'Neill's daughter Bella-Rose Baxter, who has retinoblastoma, has been named a CHECT Champion

Lauren O'Neill's daughter Bella-Rose Baxter, who has retinoblastoma, has been named a CHECT Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. - Credit: Su Anderson

Bella-Rose Baxter, from Kirby Cross, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in February after a routine eye test discovered she had no sight in her right eye.

Within three weeks and after further tests Bella-Rose had the eye removed in order to save her life, but has since been given the all-clear by doctors – though she must continue to have regular checks to make sure the cancer does not return to her other eye.

An artificial eye has been given to the girl, from Bemerton Gardens.

Bella-Rose, who turns four on Sunday, has now been named a Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT).


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The CHECT Champion awards aim to recognise the courage, resilience and patience shown by children affected by retinoblastoma throughout treatment and beyond.

Mum Lauren O’Neill said: “Bella-Rose has done amazingly. It it was not for her I don’t know how I would have got through it.

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“When we got the diagnosis it didn’t sink in, I didn’t believe it. When the surgeon said we needed to remove her eye I said no to begin with as I couldn’t come to terms with it.

“Her new eye has been a short-term thing but she has adapted to it and is coping so well, and no-one has really noticed.

“One boy aged about eight said to her ‘You’ve got a funny eye, it doesn’t look right’, and she just turned around and said ‘I’ve got a special eye and it’s better than yours’.

“Bella-Rose has always been a daring, crazy child and she is more courageous than my other children, Dolly, two and Evie, five. She has never cried a single tear despite everything she has gone through, never moaned or whinged.

“I was a blubbering mess when they said she was a champion. It is amazing to know that someone else recognises how well she has done.

“She deserves this award.”

Joy Felgate, CHECT chief executive, added: “Every child affected by retinoblastoma faces huge disruption, upset and distressing treatment not to mention follow-on check-ups.

“We are delighted to recognise the courage, resilience and resourcefulness shown by Bella-Rose throughout her treatment. She really is a thoroughly deserving champion.”

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