Parents of 3 year old Thomas Wootton have thanked nursery staff who helped discover their son had a brain tumour.

Tony and Laura had concerns about their 3 year old’s eyesight after staff at First Friends Day Nursery flagged up his fluttering eyes. Their suspicions that something was wrong were confirmed when, after taking young Thomas to the Royal Derby Hospital, an abnormality on his brain was flagged which was later diagnosed as a significant tumour.

Raising the issue

Nursery Manager Emily Edwards said: "Thomas's eyes would flutter and he would find it difficult to engage in activities, which was noticed immediately by staff.”

"We spoke to Tony and Laura about it and told them about our concerns."

Tony, Thomas’ dad, said he would often bump into tables and doors, which him and his wife put down to trouble with his eyesight.

He said: "Thomas kept bumping into the dining room table.”

"When nursery staff pointed it out too we knew something was wrong and it wasn't just us.”

"In the long term, if it hadn't been picked up on, the oncologist said it could have led to fatality. The tumour would have squashed Thomas's brain eventually.”

"We cannot thank the staff at the nursery enough. They have been so great and have really helped Thomas."

Tony said that Thomas has struggled with focusing since he was six months old, saying: "He would walk into doors and was never interested in sitting down or watching TV.”

"When he was at nursery he could not focus on pictures and found it difficult to concentrate.”

"We kept raising that there was an issue with his health workers and when Thomas had his two-year review we mentioned it again and that is when he was referred to the Royal Derby Hospital to have tests done."

After extensive examinations on his eyes, tests later revealed there was an abnormality on his brain at which point he was referred to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham for an MRI scan.  In December 2013, he was diagnosed with optic pathway glioma, a form of brain tumour.

This form of tumour affects the nerves which send messages from the eye to the brain, causing fluttering eyes, reduced vision, and, in some cases, fits and seizures.

Thomas’ tumour is non-cancerous but its slow growing nature causes pressure on the brain; dad Tony said: "When we got the results, it was like a big hole opened up and we fell through it.”

"It was such a big shock. We just thought there was something wrong with his eyes."

The youngster has undergone chemotherapy treatment to reduce the size of the tumour with an aim of saving his remaining vision. Now, he is having sessions every 3 weeks at the Children's Oncology Day Care Centre at the Queen's Medical Centre and his eyes are checked every 3 months.

Tony, who gave up his job working on a project to create ceramic poppies for the Tower of London to care for his son, said: "They cannot operate on it or take a biopsy because of the location on his brain. If he didn't have chemotherapy, the pressure on his brain could leave him paralysed.”

"Thomas has been so brave. It's been really hard for us all but we've just had the mentality that we have to crack on with it.”

"We haven't got time to think about what is going on. It has just become part of our lives.”

"Thomas is a very confident and outgoing child and is very strong-willed."

Dr Sophie Wilne, a paediatric oncologist at the Nottingham Children's Hospital, is Thomas’ consultant, and she has said he has made great progress.

She said: "This was a large significant tumour, one of the largest I have seen in children. We think there is a possibility that he may have had the abnormality for a long time.”

"Thomas has had a really good response to the chemotherapy and the results from his latest MRI scan have been very positive."

Fundraising efforts from the nursery

Staff that cared for Thomas at First Friends Nursery have raised £602 for the Nottingham Children's Hospital; they organised a disco, stalls and barbecue all held at the nursery. The money they raised was presented to Dr Wilne who said the funds would go towards redeveloping the hospital.

She stated: "A £4.5m redevelopment project is under way and we need to raise £500,000 to ensure the redevelopment is not just standard, but truly first-class.”

"We are really grateful for this funding and it will go towards helping to provide quality care for children."

How important is sharing these kind of observations, both for staff and parents?

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