The parents of 5-year-old William Richardson thought they were headed to the doctor for a simple swollen eye after the child was hit with a falling toy. However, the seemingly innocent injury would save their young son’s life after doctors discovered a life-threatening cancer while screening William’s eye for a blood clot.
William Richardson, of Northumberland, was found to have rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of head and… https://t.co/IWDJI7n4RC
— World Health News (@WorldHealthNews) January 7, 2016
The Daily Mail reports that 5-year-old William Richardson was playing with his brother when a toy fell onto his eye. The little boy was left with a swollen, black eye. When the swelling refused to go down, William was taken to the doctor. Initially, the medical staff feared the child might have a blood clot and performed a screening on the eye. However, what they found was not a blood clot but, a rare and aggressive type of head and neck cancer. The cancer was in the eye socket and likely would not have been discovered and treated so early had the child not been hit in the eye with the toy.
#WeekendReview case 6: rhabdomyosarcoma occurs most commonly about the head &neck. The next most common location is the pelvis.
— Cincy Kids Radiology (@CincyKidsRad) January 4, 2016
The doctors informed William’s parents that the cancer may be slowly pushing the child’s eye from his socket. Chemotherapy was performed to shrink the tumor. However, doctors knew that the best therapy for William was not chemo but rather proton beam therapy. The proton beam treatment is a therapy that uses a radiation beam to pinpoint and destroy tumors with extreme accuracy. The only problem was that the Richardson family lived in the United Kingdom, and proton beam therapy was not an option in their healthcare system. In fact, the only way the family could get the life-saving treatment for William was to travel to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, over 4,500 miles away from their home in the U.K.
Despite the long distance, the family traveled to the United States for the treatment at an Oklahoma City hospital. Now, they are back in the United Kingdom waiting to see if the therapy worked. Meanwhile, William’s mother Marie says that the whole ordeal was a whirlwind that started with William arriving at the hospital for a swollen eye and ended up in the United States for a revolutionary proton beam therapy within a week.
Though the proton beam therapy is not offered in the U.K., the family notes that some hospitals will pay for patients to fly to America for treatment at approved hospitals. This was the case for William. Marie says that prior to the proton beam therapy, the children had never been on a plane in their lives. Therefore, it was a shock when their first flight was nearly 4,500 miles over the sea to the United States.
“The flights were booked on the Monday and we flew out on the Saturday. The boys had never been on a plane before so it felt very strange to be suddenly flying halfway across the world.”
— Proton Partners (@ProtonPartners) January 8, 2016
Marie says the family is still unsure if the treatment was a success as scans performed in the fall were inconclusive.
“Now it is a case of waiting to see if the tumour has reduced. If it is still there it will mean more chemotherapy.”
Though William is still battling with the idea that his cancer may not be gone, his mother says he is just a typical little boy who loves to play with Legos and wants to be a “black hole scientist” when he grows up. Marie notes that despite missing a lot of school while spending nine weeks in America receiving the proton beam treatment, William is still going strong.
[Image via AP]