A true champion - young cancer survivor is rewarded for his courage

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A little boy from Sydenham who has recovered from a rare form of eye cancer while grieving for his late grandfather has been selected for a national award.

Six-year-old Thomas Lawson was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, which usually affects under-fives and causes the cells of the retina to grow rapidly and out of control, when he was six months old. He underwent intensive treatment to combat tumours in both eyes - but luckily, following a lengthy recovery process, the little boy has now left the cancer behind, although he still has impaired vision in his left eye.

The past six years have been emotionally draining enough for Thomas and his family, but to add to their ordeal, Thomas’ grandfather Mike Eley, who was a major source of support for him throughout his treatment, passed away.

In recognition for his bravery and outstanding efforts to pull through, Thomas has been named as a Champion by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT). The award aims to recognise the courage, resilience and patience shown by all children affected by retinoblastoma throughout treatment and beyond.

Thomas’ mum Becky Lawson said: “Thomas is a really kind, thoughtful boy and receiving this means so much to him. He has been through such a lot in a short space of time and is an inspiration to us all.”

She added: “Thomas found my father’s death extremely difficult to cope with. He was there for him throughout all the hospital appointments, check-ups, fundraising events - you name it.

“His death left a massive hole and really affected Thomas. This award has helped put a smile back on his face.”

The CHECT Champion awards are sponsored by Credit Suisse, enabling each Champion to receive a medal, framed certificate and goody bag.

The charity’s chief executive Joy Felgate said: “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 Thomas throughout his treatment and beyond. He really is an extremely deserving champion.”

For more on CHECT, visit www.chect.org.uk