Brave Preston four-year-old starts school after cancer battle - now she's supporting fundraising clothes campaign by TK Maxx

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A brave four-year-old who was diagnosed with cancer only spotted by chance in a family photograph has started primary school.

Matilda Farley from Ribbleton was just 10 months old when she was diagnosed with eye cancer retinoblastoma after her mum Beth raised the alarm.

Now fit and well, Matilda has started primary school - a milestone her family had longed for her to achieve.

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Beth Bretherton, 25, said: “It was very emotional on Matilda’s first day, she has overcome so much. As a parent, you hear cancer and think the worst. Matilda has had a lot thrown at her, but she has taught us as a family that no matter what life throws at you, keep smiling, and that’s what she has always done.”

Matilda's first day at schoolMatilda's first day at school
Matilda's first day at school

This Leyland woman survived cancer as a child – and is now calling for more public support

Beth and Matilda are sharing their story during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in support of Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People to help more children like Matilda survive cancer.

This September, Matilda and her family are urging people across Lancashire to clear out their wardrobes, and donate any pre-loved quality fashion and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store as part of the Give Up Clothes for Good campaign.

When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could be worth up to £25 to help support research into children’s and young people’s cancers.

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Matilda in hospitalMatilda in hospital
Matilda in hospital

In the North West around 190 children like Matilda are diagnosed with cancer every year.

How was Matilda’s cancer discovered?

Nail technician Beth first became concerned about Matilda towards the end of 2019 after noticing a glow in her left eye that was visible on photographs.

Beth, also mum to Lucas, aged eight, and one-year-old Nancy, said: “I had taken some pictures one day and there was this glow on her left eye that looked different to her other eye, and it just didn’t look right. I took her to the doctors, and they examined her, but they couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t until her eight-month routine check-up when I mentioned it again that she was then referred to a specialist.”

Matilda with her mum, dad, brother and sisterMatilda with her mum, dad, brother and sister
Matilda with her mum, dad, brother and sister

Lockdown complications

Tests revealed a tumour behind Matilda’s left eye, and she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic hit.

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Due to lockdown restrictions, only one parent could be with Matilda during her treatment at The Christie, Manchester, which included six rounds of chemotherapy and laser treatment.

Throughout lockdown Matilda’s dad, 27-year-old barber Jonny, had to stay at home with the couple’s eldest son while Matilda and her mum travelled to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for various tests and check-ups.

Thankfully doctors managed to save Matilda’s eye, but unfortunately, she has since lost the sight in it completely.

Matilda went into remission in November 2020 and has just been given the all clear at her annual check-up.

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Cancer Research UK spokesperson Jemma Humphreys said: “Thanks to our generous supporters, we’re discovering new ways to treat cancer, so children and young people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of the disease. By donating any quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store, people across Lancashire can help ensure more people under the age of 25 in the county - and across the UK - survive cancer with a good quality of life.”