Eye patient honoured for inspiring others

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A student from South Tyneside has been recognised for being an inspiration to others after losing an eye through cancer.

Abby Ryan, 15, from South Shields was presented at Beamish Museum with her award by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) for her steely determination to get on in life and support others.

I lost my eye when I was just a baby, so it is perfectly normal to me. I just get on with life.

Abby Ryan, who had retinoblastoma as a baby, said:

When Abby was just one-year-old she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, which is a rare form of cancer that affects youngsters under the age of five. Within a week, she had been rushed to a specialist hospital in London to have her eye removed.

Despite that, Abby has never let it bother her and is not only a grade A student at Newcastle’s Discovery School, but is also completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award and is a member of the Sea Scouts.

Abby said: “It was a lovely surprise to be nominated for an award from CHECT because I never think about what happened to me at all.

“Most of the time I forget that I’ve only got one eye and I certainly don’t feel as though it has held me back. I lost my eye when I was just a baby, so it is perfectly normal to me. I just get on with life like everybody else.”

This summer Abby will be sailing the first leg of the Tall Ships Race between Ipswich and Edinburgh. The teenager is hoping this is just the start of a life of travel for her.

After school, her ambition is to study engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in America, which is considered one of the best universities in the world

Abby said: “I can’t wait for the Tall Ships Race this summer and am just generally excited about the future. I really want to work in engineering, so I came to Discovery School because it offered me the specialist education other schools couldn’t.”

Joy Felgate, chief executive of CHECT, said she hoped others learned from Abby.

She said: “This reward recognises the resilience, patience and courage shown by Abby and others like her who have experienced eye cancer as a child, but who just take it all in their stride.

They are an inspiration to us all.”