Teenager who lost eye to cancer hailed as inspiration to others

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A SOUTH Tyneside teenager who lost her eye as a child through cancer is being rewarded for being an inspiration to others.

When Abby Ryan was just one year old she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma – a rare type of eye cancer that affects children younger than five

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Within a week of being diagnosed, her mother, Mandy Jackson, had to take her down to London to have her eye removed.

However, 15-year-old Abby, from Cauldwell Villas, South Shields, is now thriving and is due to get a champion award from the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) charity for being an inspiration to others.

Mrs Jackson, who is married to Simon, said: “We’re all so proud of Abby. She is such a funny little thing and she doesn’t let anything stop her from doing what she wants to do.

“I hope that other families, whose children may be diagnosed with retinoblastoma will be able to see how much she has achieved.”

I hope that other families, whose children may be diagnosed with retinoblastoma will be able to see how much she achieved.

Mandy Jackson, Abby’s mum

She added: “When she was just one, I noticed that when I was taking her out of her car seat in the dark, her eye would almost beam and I thought that wasn’t right.

“After taking her to the GP, he recommended she went to the Sunderland Eye Infirmary and the following week we were in London and Abby was having her eye removed.”

Despite the changes – and learning to deal with a prosthetic eye – Abby, hasn’t let anything hold her back.

In September Abby, who has a brother, Ryan, 20 and step-siblings, Kate, 15, and Adam, 13, gained a place at the new Discovery School in Newcastle.

The school is an industry-driven technical school for 14 to 19-year-olds.

And in July, through her involvement with the Sea Scouts, she will be sailing in the first leg of the Tall Ships race from Ipswich to Newcastle.

She will also be completing the next stage of her Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Mrs Jackson said: “Abby has it all planned out, she wants to be an international student and says she’s going to study engineering in Boston, Massachusetts,

“She loves anything to do with maths and physics, so gaining a place at the school has been wonderful for her.

“Abby said the other day that this is her best year ever because she loves her new school and has so many exciting things happening.”

Abby, who now needs yearly check-ups, will be receiving her award at Beamish later this month.

Joy Felgate, chief executive of CHECT said: “These awards help recognise the impact on all children affected by retinoblastoma and help reward them for their resilience, patience and courage they show throughout treatment and beyond.

“Abby is extremely deserving of this award and we look forward to meeting her later this month.”

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVez