A baby boy has been diagnosed with a rare cancer after his parents thought he had sand in his eye.
Mum Jessica and dad Lee Neal became concerned when they noticed their 11-month-old son Ted’s face was swollen while they were on holiday.
They thought he had rubbed sand into his eye while playing on the beach in North Wales and took him to A&E as a precaution when they returned home.
The couple were left heartbroken when tests revealed the tot had a cancerous tumour in one of his sinuses which is so rare it doesn’t even have a name.
He was diagnosed with an unspecified sarcoma in his ethmoid sinus and was started on an aggressive course of chemotherapy.
Since he was diagnosed on August 14, Ted is being cared for at home in between treatments at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
His parents are now urging parents to take their children to the GP if they notice any unusual swelling on their faces or eyes.
Mum Jessica, 35, a product developer, said: “When the doctors told us it was cancer it came as a massive shock.
“We both knew that there was a swelling around his eye but we honestly thought we were seeing things to start off with.
“I was expecting the doctors to tell us nothing was wrong but they didn’t.
“He is smiling now which is a good sign but it’s been very rough on him. He has chemotherapy every two weeks and it takes him a while to recover.
“He has been very, very sick. It’s been almost constant and he has lost a lot of weight.
“He has had infection after infection and had sepsis at one point which just added to the problems.”
Jessica and Lee, from Calverton, Nottinghamshire, first became worried when they noticed Ted’s eye was mis-shapen on a family break.
Jessica said: “We were on holiday in Wales when I started to notice Ted’s right eye.
“I couldn’t put my finger on what was different about it, it wasn’t inflamed or sore, but it was starting to look like it was protruding.
“Throughout the week it was gradually becoming more obvious and when I pointed it out to Lee and he could see it too.
“When we got home, we took him to the emergency department at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, really hoping that we were overreacting.
“I was expecting them to tell us nothing was wrong – but they didn’t.
“As parents it’s the worst thing you could find out, and the unknown type of sarcoma is incredibly rare and so is where it is in Ted’s body, so finding out it’s not going to be easy to treat is the worst thing.
“There’s no known treatment plan and there’s no known process.
“The plan is changing all the time about whether surgery is possible because they don’t know whether the tumour will react to radiotherapy.”
His parents, who also have sons Ben, 15, and Charlie, 14, hope Ted will be strong enough to undergo surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London before Christmas.
Dad Lee, 37, who works for Nottingham City Council, said: “I’m grateful we took into hospital when we did. We really believed he had sand in his eye.
“I would urge any parent to get their kids checked out if they are in any doubt.
“Me and Jess have been left devastated by this, Ted’s undergone a lot of tests but we still don’t know a lot which is the hard part.
“The cancer is so rare it doesn’t even have a specified name which is scary.
“His brothers do understand what is happening and we are trying to keep them into a routine and keep life as normal as possible, but it’s really difficult because Ted needs almost 24/7 care unless he’s having a very good day.
“It’s difficult, it’s really hard for them as well thinking about their little brother. We’re all constantly thinking about Ted.
“He’s in the hospital every few days; if anything happens like him having a fever, we have to go backwards and forwards.”
A GoFundMe appeal, which has already raised £ 37,391 has been launched to help the family while they care for Ted.