The parents of a little girl with a rare form of eye cancer have raised over £3,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity after climbing three mountains in 24 hours, to say thank you to the doctors that saved their daughter’s life.

Shaun and Hayley Heelbeck, from Manchester, and their good friend Daley, pulled on their hiking boots to take on the mammoth Three Peaks Challenge, conquering Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon, after the hospital gave their two-year-old daughter, Noëlle, another chance at life after a shocking cancer diagnosis.

Noëlle was just 16-months-old when Shaun and Hayley noticed that the pupil in her right eye was abnormally large and that her eye was a little red. After an inconclusive call with their GP, instinct told Shaun and Hayley to take Noëlle to their local A&E where they were referred to a specialist eye consultant. The consultant suspected that Noëlle might have Retinoblastoma and after preparing Shaun and Hayley for the worst, referred Noëlle to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, one of only two specialist hospitals in the UK that could treat the condition. It was there that their worst nightmare was confirmed – that their baby girl had Unilateral Retinoblastoma and that there was a large tumour sat within her right eye.

Shaun and Hayley were numb with shock as they tried to take in the devastating news and what it meant for Noëlle. Her condition had been graded as “stage E”, meaning that the tumour was so large that if it spread down the optic nerve towards the brain it could lead to Noëlle losing her eye completely.

Noëlle immediately began a six-month course of chemotherapy at her local hospital, but still returning to Birmingham Children’s Hospital every week for specialist procedures. This included focussed laser treatment, which saw the tumour decrease in size by over 50 per cent, ultimately saving her eye.

Nine months on, Noëlle is doing incredibly well. Having taken all of the treatment in her stride, Noëlle is back at nursery, making friends and loves her new role as a big sister. Unfortunately, her illness has meant that she has lost the sight in her right eye and is now battling with glaucoma, but thankfully there has been no further tumour activity to date.

Shaun said: “Hayley and I are beyond grateful for the heroes at Birmingham Children’s Hospital that saved Noëlle’s eye and life, and continue to work so hard to make sure she has a good quality of life going forward. Fundraising is just our way of showing that thanks and helping to make sure other children have the best chance possible in fighting Retinoblastoma in the future.

“Taking on the Three Peaks Challenge in such a short amount of time was one of the hardest challenges we have done, but nothing compares to what these children go through in fighting childhood cancer. Every time it got tough whilst climbing, I thought of my daughter being hooked up to chemotherapy for the whole day, yet still walking out of hospital with a smile on her face - so inspirational, so courageous, our little hero.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re so pleased to hear that Noëlle is doing well after such a scary and uncertain year and so thankful that Shaun and Hayley were able to use their experience as inspiration and motivation for such an incredible challenge.

“The funds they’ve raised for our Retinoblastoma team and Oncology department will go on to help support more patients and families just like Noëlle and their family.”

For further information about Retinoblastoma, please visit the NHS website by clicking here.