[A] BRAVE toddler who was diagnosed with cancer as a baby was guest of honour at the official opening of the county’s first Cancer Research UK superstore.
The new superstore at Hindpool Retail Park, which recently opened for business, is five times the size of a normal store and will sell a range of items for £5 or less alongside a full range of furniture and electrical items. The store will also be used as a processing hub to support high street shops in the area.
All profits raised will go towards funding Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work to help more men, women and children survive the disease.
The Barrow superstore is the 14th of its kind in the UK and is part of a plan to meet customer demand for more accessible stores with easy access and plenty of parking.
Due to the size of the shop there will be much more on offer, everything from clothing to books, with great discount prices.
Ezra, from Barrow, is now fighting fit and enjoying life at nursery.
But at the start of January 2016, when he was only a few months old, his mum Jenna Parker became worried when she noticed a change of colour in his left pupil, from black to dark brown.
Ezra, who has an older brother called Hanley aged seven and a brand new baby brother called Eden, was referred to an eye hospital, but when the problem became worse, Jenna and his dad John demanded to see a consultant at Furness General Hospital.
Ezra’s left retina had become detached and he was referred to Manchester Eye Hospital for more tests. The family were given the bad news that Ezra had a large white mass behind his left eye. Following further tests at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the family’s worst fears were confirmed and Ezra was diagnosed with a type of cancer called retinoblastoma.
The mass behind his left eye was large and the most serious kind while a second tumour which was discovered behind his right eye was fortunately not as fast growing or dangerous.
Before Ezra faced a six-month course of chemotherapy, the family celebrated his life by organising a christening for him at St Columba’s Church in Walney.
The following day, Ezra was admitted to hospital and started the intensive course of chemotherapy.
The treatment successfully shrunk the tumour, but he lost the sight completely in his left eye.
Ezra is now one year clear of treatment and needs check-ups every 12 weeks.
Mum Jenna, aged 29, who works as a learning disability nurse and is currently on maternity leave, said: “When the doctors initially explained that the mass behind his eye might be cancerous, I couldn’t speak. I just sat there silently as tears rolled down my cheeks – I couldn’t take it in.
“Until that point I had thought the worst case scenario was Ezra needing surgery to re-attach his retina. I never thought for a minute that my beautiful baby boy who was only three months old at the time, could have cancer.
“We are so proud of him for coming through the gruelling treatment and it’s great to see him having fun with his friends at nursery.
“It’s fantastic that such a huge Cancer Research UK shop has opened in Barrow on our doorstep. I would urge as many people as possible to come and pick up some bargains.”
Retinoblastoma is a type of cancer found at the back of the eye – in the UK around 35 children each year are diagnosed with the disease. It has the highest survival rate of any children’s cancers – 99% of children survive for at least five years and Cancer Research UK’s work has been part of this success.
Every year around 3,300 people are diagnosed with cancer in Cumbria.
Cancer Research UK superstore manager Steph Hill said: “We are so grateful to Ezra for being our special guest. He is an inspiration.
“There are lots of ways that local people can get involved and help us, from visiting as customers or offering to donate their time. It’s a big store and so we will need a lot of volunteers!
“We also need ongoing supplies of stock so we’d ask people to clear out their wardrobes and cupboards over the next few months and bring us their good quality clothes, shoes, bags, household items, books and CDs and DVDs. And we will collect furniture free of charge.”
Barrow superstore will open:
Sun 10.30am – 4.30pm
To find out more about Cancer Research UK’s shops and shopping, visit: http://supportus.cancerresearchuk.org/shop or follow @CRUKshops or stay up to date with events at Barrow’s superstore by following @CRUKBarrowSuper on Twitter.