Appeal for help for baby Caleb's family as cancer treatment begins

An appeal has been launched to help the family of a nine-week-old Derry baby diagnosed with cancer of the eyes.

Tuesday, 5th July 2016, 8:52 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:42 pm
Baby Caleb Williamson.

Little Caleb Williamson will require ongoing treatment for Retinoblastoma, starting from this week, at both the Children’s Hospital in Belfast and Temple Street Hospital in Dublin.

A online funding appeal has been set up by a friend of the family to help cover the costs involved for Caleb’s parents Jacqueline (30) and Darran (35)as they stay by their baby’s side during his treatment.

The Hazelbank couple, who between them have five other young children aged 10 and under, will need to travel with Caleb during his treatment, which is likely to last for years.

Baby Caleb Williamson when he was just three days old with his parents Jacqueline and Darran.

His mother Jacqueline said yesterday: “They first found that something was wrong when he was two days old but they didn’t know what it was.

“A few weeks later then they confirmed it was tumours. It was heart wrenching.

“We are heading up to Belfast first thing in the morning and then later it will be down to Dublin and we’ll keep doing that.

“He will be getting chemo and lazer treatment and he will have to have a wee operation in between. It has to start now because the tumours are growing; they’re aggressive.”

Baby Caleb Williamson when he was just three days old with his parents Jacqueline and Darran.

Jacqueline herself was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma a rare malignant tumour which affects young children - and lost an eye to the condition, while getting laser treatment to her other eye. Her own father had also had the condition, which is hereditary.

Jacqueline’s treatment lasted until she was nine. “It’s a long road,” she said.

Caleb, meanwhile, has proved a big hit among his siblings.

“They’re mad about him and he is great. You wouldn’t know- they have caught it very, very early. He is just nine weeks old and has already had three general anaesthetics and an MRI.” his mother said.

Jacqueline said that the response of the local community has been amazing, with one friend setting up the appeal, while other people are organising a series of fund-raising events.

The Derry woman is also hoping to raise awareness about Retinoblastoma,

Retinoblastoma can either affect one or both eyes. If it affects both eyes, it’s usually diagnosed before a child is one year old. Early detection can mean the condition is often be successfully treated.