Kelly Morton developed a strabismus (lazy eye) at a young age. She was treated with patching therapy for over a year and wore glasses to correct her misalignment. These measures were a complete success and she had no further visual issues.
Later in life, when Kelly and her husband started their own family in Denver Colorado, they were careful to watch for any signs of misalignment developing in any of their three children. Their older two children, Camden and Chloe, never showed any signs of visual issues. However, Kelly was quick to notice when her youngest child, Kinley, started to develop a slight misalignment. She was two years old at the time. Kelly assumed that her daughter was experiencing the same lazy eye that she once had. She was not overly concerned and did not believe Kinley needed urgent attention.
However, over the next few weeks, Kinley’s misalignment became much more prevalent. Kelly became concerned and now believed Kinley needed a thorough examination. She was worried they may have to wait months for this exam, as it was the middle of the Covid Pandemic and appointments were difficult to schedule. By a twist of fate, or maybe divine intervention, their eye doctor had a cancellation and scheduled Kinley for the next morning! Kelly believes this coincidence quite possibly saved her daughter’s life.
The ophthalmologist began the exam by covering Kinley’s stable eye. Right away Kelly knew there was something much more serious than strabismus affecting her daughter. She could tell by Kinley’s response that she was completely blind in her wandering eye. After the exam was complete, the doctor left the room for what seemed like an eternity. When he returned, he was accompanied by a nurse who was holding a box of tissues. He sat down and matter-of-factly told Kelly that he could clearly see a tumor behind Kinley’s eye. She had cancer of the retina, Retinoblastoma.
Kelly was in shock at the word cancer. She had never heard of Retinoblastoma before. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to digest what she had just been told. Kinley, sensing her despair, walked over and hugged her, trying to give her mother comfort.
Kelly and Kinley were immediately sent to Children’s Hospital of Colorado. There they saw Dr. Scott Oliver. Kinley had a long day of tests and exams, lasting over four hours. By that evening, Dr. Oliver confirmed Kinley’s RB diagnosis. She had one grade D tumor and two smaller tumors forming in her right eye. The positive news was that all three tumors were still contained in the eye, not yet affecting the optic nerve or brain and her non-wandering eye was cancer free!
Since this initial diagnosis in December of 2020, Kinley has had four rounds of Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy and over ten exams under anesthesia. She has also received several rounds of laser and cryotherapy. It has not been an easy road to recovery for Kinley. She has experienced several setbacks along the way. However, Kinley is a determined little fighter while keeping a happy, positive demeanor every day. As the chemotherapy shrunk her tumors, Kinley re-gained some of the lost vision (now 20/80). Finally, on February 4th of 2022, the family was told that Kinley is now in remission!
She has grown to be a very active and creative four year old. She loves to swim and play soccer. She is smart and social, a leader in her class. She loves to dance, color and tell stories. Kinley has lived up to the meaning of her name – Gaelic Warrior!
Kelly says that before Kinley’s diagnosis they were not aware of the Glow that can appear in flash photos (leukocoria). This Glow can signal a variety of other visual conditions, including Retinoblastoma. Looking back they were not able to see the Glow in any of her photos before diagnosis. It was not until after diagnosis that Kinley began to exhibit the Glow.
Kelly is now determined to share her story and spread awareness to as many as possible. She wants other families to become aware of the Glow. She also wants to encourage parents with concerns to have their child examined, no matter how minor of an issue it seems to be. She knows these precautions could save their child’s vision, if not their life!