Miley was diagnosed with hereditary retinoblastoma when she was seven months old. You see, from birth Miley went to a pediatric ophthalmologist every three months to check for signs of retinoblastoma (tumors in the retina) because we knew of the family history. Even though there was statistically a less than 4% chance she would develop retinoblastoma because Miley’s paternal grandfather had retinoblastoma, but not her dad. Retinoblastoma rarely skips a generation. For Miley, that is what happened. At her third eye check-up on December 10, 2008 we were told our baby had cancer.
We were completely stunned. We had thought all along the eye checks were just a precaution…4% …our child couldn’t possibly be in the 4%. A parent can never be prepared to face cancer; we were going to check-ups to check for it and were not prepared.
Miley had an eye exam under anesthesia and a MRI. The exams confirmed Miley only had one tumor in her left retina and it was very small, but close to her center of vision. So her left eye might suffer some vision loss, but if the tumor could be stopped she would not lose her eye; which is often the treatment for retinoblastoma. Her doctors told us more tumors could develop later in either eye, but for now we were only facing one tumor. Rarely retinoblastoma also develops with brain tumors, so the MRI was to check for brain tumors and thankfully the MRI showed no signs. Miley’s doctors decided she would have 6 rounds of chemotherapy over 6 months. She would also have laser treatments to the tumor. Twelve days after she was diagnosed, she had surgery to place her chemo port and had her first chemo treatment.
After four rounds of chemo all that was left of the tumor was scar tissue from the laser, which gave her a blind spot in her left eye. Her last chemo treatment was days before her first birthday. Someone so young had faced so much, but triumphed.
Miley is three years old now and still has eye exams under anesthesia every few months and an MRI of her brain every 6 months. The dreaded other tumors never developed and each month that passes it is less likely that another tumor will develop. She is a normal three-year-old; except she wears a patch over her “good eye” four hours a day to help her body learn to overcome the blind spot left from the scarring of the tumor. She runs, jumps, swims, and laughs. She is the joy of our life, as every child is to their parents.
Looking back over our cancer journey, we realize just how truly blessed we have been. Her cancer was caught so early that she had a very low chemo dosage, thanks to many studies funding better treatments and early detection. Every day when I look into my child’s eyes I am thankful and amazed that we were spared the worst of childhood cancer.
We praise Christ for His protection we have felt and seen in our lives. Our prayer is that all children can be spared the worst. Our prayer is that a CURE for childhood cancer will be found.