"Could've lost him": Gladstone boy's cancer misdiagnosed twice
DARTING around a Sun Valley home back patio playing with toy trucks you wouldn't think Jack Stokes almost died last month.
His mum Lara is still coming to terms with almost losing her only child, after his eye cancer was misdiagnosed by two Gladstone doctors.
Late last year Lara noticed Jack's right eye started to deviate outwards, and when she visited a GP she was told it was "just a lazy eye".
Weeks later it worsened and she and husband Brock noticed a slight glow in Jack's pupil.
She took her son to the Gladstone Hospital emergency department on New Years Day, but after waiting for five hours she was again told "it's just a lazy eye".
"I took him to the optometrist the next day, I thought something is not right," she said.
The Gladstone optometrist believed it was retinoblastoma, and referred Jack to an ophthalmologist specialist in Brisbane for further test.
By January 6, Jack was undergoing exploratory surgery at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane, which confirmed a tumour had taken over one third of his right eye.
The two-year-old had surgery to remove the cancerous eye.
"The doctor told us it was a life-threatening situation, that he could've lost his life," Lara said.
"I half knew that already with what I'd read (about the disease), but it's quite a shock to actually hear it."
The two-year-old still has more tests next week to see if the cancer spread.
"If I'd taken the doctors' word for it ... it could've cost him his life," she said.
The health scare comes at a time when this family needed no reminders of how cruel life can be.
In March last year Lara was diagnosed with tongue cancer, which she is still recovering from.
And the idea of losing young Jack was haunting for the couple, after Lara had two miscarriages before he was born.
"Nothing can prepare you for something like (losing your child)," she said.
"To think we could've lost him, he's the most beautiful little boy in the world, and I know I'm his mum so you might think I'm bias, but he's such a gentle spirited boy. "You hear stories about this happening but you never think it could happen to you."
Jack's case is being investigated by the Gladstone Hospital and they are keeping in touch with Lara about their findings.
But it was her case of "mother's intuition" that was likely the real saviour.
Currently Jack has a donor eye without a pupil or an iris. The eye will help his skull develop properly, since he's still a toddler.
But he's taken the ordeal in his stride, returning to his usual playful, adventurous mood as soon as he stepped foot onto their Sun Valley home back patio.
"He's actually perfect ... He's exceptional," Lara said.
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