Three days after this frightening diagnosis, Jarrah’s right eye was surgically removed, and the next three years were spent fighting to save his left eye. Jarrah’s treatment plan included a full year of chemotherapy, two rounds of radioactive plaque therapy, and seemingly endless laser and cryotherapy treatments. The combined treatments were successful and Jarrah was in remission for three years.
Devastatingly, last year the cancer returned. Jarrah’s vision in his left eye had worsened as his medical team tried to pin-point the cause. The discovery of a growing tumour confirmed their worst fears. Jarrah underwent another three rounds of chemotherapy and by the end of 2017 the tumour had stopped growing and the sight in Jarrah’s left eye was partially restored.
The cruellest blow came in May last year when the tumour was once again found to be growing. Jarrah, together with his family made the heart-breaking decision to have his left eye removed, rendering him completely blind.
Incredibly, Jarrah missed less than a week of school after this life changing surgery. In the months leading up to this point, he had begun working with Guide Dogs Victoria, learning to walk with a cane and making “mind-maps” of his home, his school and local town.
Through all of this, their family is rock solid. Jarrah and his brothers support each other and with their parents’ love, the entire family has immense gratitude for life, given how easily it can be taken away, and they now look to the future with hope.
Jarrah remains the funny, smart and kind boy he has always been. He does most things his classmates do, with the aid of a Braille machine, he loves art class and is learning to play the electric guitar.
July 27, 2018 was a significant day as Jarrah received his new prosthetic eyes. They are the same colour as his mother’s blue eyes and everyone agrees they are stunning. Jarrah couldn’t wait to get his “new eyeballs” and now feels “more normal” when he wears them.
Jarrah’s biggest priority now is getting high-school-ready. He is learning to work in the classroom alongside his peers and is progressively moving away from having his work administered via a classroom aide. This is a necessity as he will not have access to an aide in high school. He has regular sessions with Statewide Vision in Melbourne and visits from Vision Australia for ongoing instruction in relevant areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum such as braille and learning new technology; as well as honing his skills with his cane. He wants to get a guide dog as soon as possible.
Through sharing his story with Nicole Chvastek on ABC Radio’s Statewide Drive and through articles in our local newspaper The Midland Express, our community rallied around Jarrah and his family. We started this GoFundMe campaign in August last year and then in October held a benefit concert "Concert for Jarrah" to help pay for much needed equipment and ease his family’s financial stress.
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