Two young St Andrews brothers have been give a unique honour in recognition of their courage as one of them battled a rare form of cancer.
Euan Fleming (7) and his older brother Robert (9), both pupils at Lawhead Primary School, have been named Childhood Eye Cancer Trust Champions – an award that usually goes to just one child. But Robert has been so supportive throughout his brother’s illness that the charity decided he should be rewarded too.
Euan was just nine months old when he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer which affects the retina.
His mum Ellen noticed he had a squint and an MRI scan confirmed the worst.
The next thing the family knew, he was rushed to Birmingham for specialist treatment to save his life – the first of more than 40 return journeys he had to make during four years of gruelling treatment.
As well as losing his eye, he endured chemotherapy, laser surgery, cryotherapy, radioactive patches and blood and platelet transfusions.
But throughout his long ordeal Euan remained positive – thanks in large part to the support of his big brother.
“Despite everything he’s been through, Euan is a really positive boy with a great zest for life,” Ellen told the Citizen.
“He plays football, golf and tennis. He swims. He’s learning to play the violin. He also gives talks at school about his ‘magic eye’ and the treatment he received.
“Euan is very open with people about it all which I think has really helped him, and those around him.
“Robert was about to celebrate his third birthday when Euan was diagnosed. It was a lot for us all to take in, but especially difficult for Robert who was initially very confused.
“But he learned fast. He’s been a terrific help to his brother, always making sure he is safe and telling everyone how proud he is of Euan.”
Now the boys have a little sister, three-year-old Eilidh, and family life is approaching something like normality at last.
Euan was finally given the all-clear in October 2014, but still has to attend Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for regular check-ups and to have his artificial eye replaced.
“Euan is really sporty and doesn’t let the lack of vision hold him back,” said Ellen.
“I’m very proud of both my boys and pleased that they’re helping to raise awareness of the condition.”
Patrick Tonks, chief executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: “Euan and Robert have been through so much over the last few years since Euan’s diagnosis, but together they’ve shown remarkable levels of courage and resilience.
“Rb causes an immense amount of upset and disruption but they have absolutely refused to let things get on top of them.
“They are thoroughly deserving champions.”
For more information on the charity and how to check the signs and symptoms of retinoblastoma (Rb), visit www.chect.org.uk