The Doctor called my family into a conference room and told them, “I'm sorry to say your daughter has an eye tumor and will need to be treated right away. If not, she could die!” Ugh! Just like that, one day I’m happy, playing in my swing, and the next, I'm dying. My mom cried so hard. The news was just too much for her and she left the room.
After that visit, I had one appointment after another. Finally, I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma by a pediatric ophthalmologist. Retinoblastoma is a childhood cancer arising from immature retinal cells in one or both eyes and can strike from the time a child is in the womb up to 5 years of age. This cancer is curable if caught early enough.
My parents didn’t know what to think. My mom blamed herself and has been crying every day, and dad is very sad as well but tries to hide it because my mom is sad.
During my next visit to the hospital, I would have to be put to sleep to have a retinal scan done on my eye. Finally, good news! My cancer had not moved and was not spreading to my other eye or my body. The doctor informed my family that the tumor was not that big and that, if treated right away, there could be hope of not losing my sight or eye.
My family took me to an Ocular Oncology Specialist. This doctor had practice experience with the management of retinoblastoma in children and was one of the best in the state of Michigan. Like the others, he informed my family that, worst case, there was a chance I could lose my eye. He had faith, however, that with chemotherapy and laser eye care, I would be fine.
CHEMO!!!! I'm only two months old; but the doctor says this is the only way to save my life. Well, I guess I’ll have to put my strong cap on and get well for myself and my mommy and daddy. I don't want them to hurt anymore. I just want them to know I'm going to be ok! Worst case at this point is I will have to wear glasses and won't have full vision.
Now my family faces an additional challenge. My mom had to stop working to look after me and our health insurance was canceled. My dad hasn't been back to work because he’s scared to leave mom and refuses to miss any of my appointments. It's been difficult for them to do very much and I still have needs as well as mounting medical bills!
I do know that my life isn't over not yet. I just got here and I look forward to making a mess and getting into trouble. I look forward to messing up my Parents and Grandparents homes. I look forward to exploring and getting into things I'm not supposed to.
Please, don't let my parents and family get overwhelmed with this and help them fight my battle against cancer. And finally, please share my story with someone else.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
- Darrian Washington
- Rizwan Ali
- Alex Burgos
- Manuel Rodriguez
- Dominic Devera
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