I thought my little girl had ice in her eye from a snowball fight – the reality was devastating | The Sun

A MUM has warned other parents after she thought her little girl had ice in her eye from a snowball fight – but the reality was devastating.

Gina Hickson, 29, thought an unusual white glow in her three-year-old daughter Darcey-Rose's left pupil was down to her getting ice in it.

But when the cloudiness didn't go, she assumed Darcey-Rose might need glasses and took her to the GP for a check-up.

The tot was then referred to a specialist and underwent vision screening and scans to determine what was wrong.

And the family were then left heartbroken after hearing that their little girl had retinoblastoma – a rare eye cancer that typically affects children under the age of six.

The then two-year-old began her first six rounds of chemotherapy back in March 2021 before going into remission.

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But the hope was short-lived as medics at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London found more cancer in her eye.

Gina, from Kent, said: “It was devastating to watch her go back through it 11 months later. Before the chemotherapy started we just cuddled in bed and I watched her breathe.” 

Gina and partner Michael, 34, were given a choice for Darcey-Rose to have chemotherapy injections or have her eye removed.

Unfortunately, the tumour had spread around her retina and the treatment wasn't working as it should, so Darcey-Rose had to have her left eye taken out in June 2022.

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Gina said: “When they said they were going to have to remove her eye, and the choice was taken, I felt pure fear. But the operation went really well."

The little one was fitted with a prosthetic and understands she has a "special eye because of her poorly one".

Speaking about the initial diagnosis, Gina said: "We just saw a mass, like a cloud, in Darcey-Rose's eye.

"It would change shape depending on where her eye was directed. 

"Initially, we thought it was ice in her eye from a snowball fight.

"I Googled it and it took me to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust’s website – which I instantly dismissed.

Eye cancer signs and symptoms

Around 750 cases of eye cancer (ocular cancer) are diagnosed in the UK each year.

There are a number of different types of cancer that affect the eyes, including:

  • Eye melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Retinoblastoma – a childhood cancer

Eye cancer does not always cause obvious symptoms and may only be picked up during a routine eye test.

However, common symptoms of eye cancer can include:

  • Shadows, flashes of light, or wiggly lines in your vision
  • Blurred vision
  • A dark patch in your eye that's getting bigger
  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Bulging of 1 eye
  • A lump on your eyelid or in your eye that's increasing in size
  • Pain in or around your eye, although this is rare

"I was still concerned so I got Darcey-Rose to pose for a picture and sent it to the GP straight away."

Gina wasn't worried about her daughter's eye at first and says she didn't even mention it to anyone.

She said: “Darcey-Rose had a slight lazy eye, but I put it to her vision tracking. I don't even think I mentioned it to anyone.

"I even avoided telling my best friend as I knew she would tell me it was sinister and I was actively avoiding anything that could suggest it was.

"I was genuinely concerned she would need glasses, which is so, so silly. I definitely had my head in the sand.”  


Darcey-Rose had a vision screening test to determine what was causing the unusual cloudiness in her eye.

It was at this point that mum Gina said she realised the severity of the situation.

She said that Darcey-Rose was able to identify every animal and "loved the game" while looking through he right eye,

Gina continued: "When we covered the right you could immediately see she was blind in that eye.

"Her whole body language changed, she became withdrawn and she was trying to find a way to see again.

“When she then had a scan, in the room there were posters on the wall with visuals on what to look out for, and how different eye conditions are seen on the screen – I found the cancer image and just held my breath.

"The right eye on the scan was clear and the left eye had a huge black mass.

"I looked at Michael and told him to prepare himself – saying I thought Darcey-Rose had got cancer."

The worried parents were then told that their little one potentially had a rare eye cancer but only specialists could diagnose it.

Gina said that her and Michael "broke down" when they received the news.

She said: "Michael was playing with her on the floor, I was sick in the corner.

"Our world fell apart. Everything stood still but was also blurry around us”.


Fast forward more than a year of chemotherapy and an operation and Darcey-Rose is now living life with her prosthetic eye.

But despite the ordeal, Gina says that brave little Darcey-Rose has never given up and makes everything easier with her "sheer zest for life".

“She is just the funniest, sass pot I've ever met. She makes me laugh every day.

"She's so clever, and inquisitive. She made every trip easier with her sheer zest for life. 

"She loves sports and also horse riding, despite only having vision in one eye”.  

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Gina will be running the London Marathon in October to raise funds for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust who have supported the family.

The thankful mum said: "The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust has been amazing support throughout all of this time."

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