A WIMBORNE man is making a marathon effort to raise funds for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) after his niece was diagnosed with the disease.

Darren Rodriguez, 36, will be lacing up his trainers on April 21 to run the London Marathon, with the hope of raising £1,500 for the charity.

His brother’s daughter Lucy, who is just one, has already gone through six bouts of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes.

The illness, which mainly affects children aged five and under, is very rare, with only 40 children diagnosed per year in the UK.

Of those, only five will suffer with cancer in both eyes, as Lucy does.

Lucy’s mum Tracey, who lives with her family in Blandford, said: “She was 14 weeks old when she was diagnosed.

“Her eyes weren’t following me around the room, and I described her pupil as being marble looking. Within four hours she was diagnosed and then she started treatment for it.”

Lucy has no vision at all in her right eye, and partial vision in her left.

She receives treatment at the Royal London Hospital, where CHECT is based.

When Lucy was first taken to the doctor, Mrs Rodriguez, who is a cancer nurse at Poole Hospital, was expecting a diagnosis of retinoblastoma after researching the condition.

She said: “The GP said it couldn’t be that, as it doesn’t happen in both eyes, which just goes to show how little understood it is. I had never heard of it. It would have been enough of a shock to hear Lucy was blind, but to hear the news that your baby has this blows your world apart.

“But I have two other children who depend on me too, and you’ve just got to get on with it.”

Mrs Rodriguez said Lucy had big brothers Tom, three, and George, four, and dad Nick wrapped around her little finger.

“They adore her,” she said.

“Her brothers understand that she can’t see, and they’re wonderful with her.”

Mr Rodriguez has already been sponsored by the Winton branch of Moose International and Bowmill Engineering. He will be putting the details of sponsors on his shirt as he runs the marathon.

For more information, or to donate, see the website justgiving.com/darrenrodriguez-chect