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Mom Thought Son’s Weepy Eye Was Due to a Cold or Conjunctivitis. It Was Actually a Symptom of Cancer

Harri Cooke
Screenshot/Just Giving

At first, Carly Cooke didn’t think much of her son’s watery eye. After all, small children are often sick with one minor illness or another.

As The Sun reports, Harri Cooke was only 3-years-old when he started to develop a persistently weepy eye. Mom Carly and the doctors agreed that there was probably a simple explanation — a common cold, perhaps, or maybe conjunctivitis. The U.K. mom told the Sun:

“Harri often had colds so at first I didn’t think much of his weeping eye. The doctors agreed that it was likely to be a cold but as the weeks passed, they thought he had a blocked tear duct.

It didn’t seem to bother him, he was so happy all the time.”

According to Gloucestershire Live, there were small indicators that something was wrong — like the fact that Harri didn’t like his parents to blow his nose. But it wasn’t until the youngster’s face began to swell that they were referred to a specialist.

Carly knew it was serious when she took her son to the hospital and found six worried doctors waiting to see him. Then they learned the reason for Harri’s eye trouble. There was a cancerous tumor pressing on his cheekbone. She told the Sun:

“Harri’s bone structure around his eye had changed, indicating the malicious mass that lay behind. His type was so rare, we were in complete shock. You never think it’s going to be your child.”

Harri was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a very rare bone cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, Ewing sarcoma is most common in teens and young adults. The cancer starts forming from a certain type of cell in soft tissue or bone. Symptoms include pain or swelling, a lump, fever, and unexplained bone breaks.

Posted by Harri’s Cancer Journey on Sunday, May 6, 2018

Days after his diagnosis, Harri began chemotherapy. Family and friends raised money via Just Giving to help support the Cookes so they could go to Florida for proton beam therapy treatments.

Carly told the Sun that it was a difficult time, but, “Despite everything, Harri was still smiling.” She added that, “It was so hard watching him go through it, it was like torture.”

Over the course of treatment, Harri needed more than 20 blood transfusions. Now, his mom is trying to raise awareness about the effect of treatment and the need for blood donors. She told the Sun:

“The medication is so much harsher to children. Harri’s treatments means that he could have growth issues, teeth problems and is more likely to have cancer later in life.”

Fortunately, the treatment was successful, and the cancer has gone into remission. Now 4-years-old, Harri is returning to school. His mother wants others to know about the signs of Ewing sarcoma and the resources available for children with cancer.

As Carly told the Sun, “It’s so rare and unexpected that it’s hard to know what to look for.”

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