Paislee’s Glow Story

Diagnosis: Retinoblastoma

New parents love to take videos of their newborns and toddlers.  Each milestone is so precious and parents want to document every moment.  Oftentimes, when watching these videos, there will be strange flashes of light that shine from the child’s eye.  Most of the time these glows are nothing to worry about, they are just strange reflections bouncing from the side of the child’s moving eye.  That is why we at Know the Glow advise parents to look for still photos where the child is looking directly at the camera and a flash is being used. 

However, on occasion, these glows are actually an indication of something more.   Paislee’s mom was one of these proud new parents who took many photos and videos of her precious little girl.  Not wanting to disturb her daughter, Alecia always made sure to keep the flash off as she knew her little one’s young eyes were very sensitive to the bright light.  However in June of 2015, when Paislee was only 3 months old, Alecia accidentally left the flash on while trying to capture a special moment in a video of Paislee.  What the video captured would completely change their lives. When watching the video, Alecia noticed that Paislee’s left eye had a normal red reflex but that her right eye had a white Glow.  Alecia remembered seeing on television how a white Glow in the pupil of the eye could be an indication of an abnormality.  She immediately picked up the phone and made an appointment with their family practitioner who practiced in Moosomin, which is 45 minutes away from Paislee’s family home.  This was the second time Alecia had brought Paislee in because of her eyes.

The first time Paislee was only 2 months old and Alecia worried her eyes were not focusing properly. She was assured this would fix itself as Paislee grew and her eyes developed. The doctor listened to Alecia’s concerns as she told her about the abnormal glow and examined Paislee’s eyes in the office as she did the first time. Again she found nothing of concern in her examination and told her everything looked fine.  However Alecia’s “maternal instinct” was telling her there was something more.  She asked if he would mind referring them to an eye specialist just to be sure everything was normal. Alecia took Paislee to Regina, 2 hours from their home, on July 22 where they were sent to see a specialist. The first specialist sent them to the second, who diagnosed her with Retinoblastoma without further testing as he could blatantly see a malignant tumour in the middle of Paislee’s vision in her right eye. The next day they were called by telephone and told they needed to go immediately to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario.  Toronto is fourteen hours from their home. Alecia and Paislee’s father, Ryan, accompanied Paislee to Toronto.  They were given the choice of either enucleating (removing) or treating Paislee with chemotherapy.  It was an agonizing decision, but Ryan says the team at the hospital under Dr. Brenda Gallie, Dr. Heon, and Dr. Sameh Soliman were amazing. 

They were very informative and patient, giving them all the pros and cons surrounding either decision.  After careful consideration they chose to enucleate Paislee’s affected eye.   During the months of July, August, and September of 2015 the family traveled many times to Toronto for check-ups.  At one of these checks it was discovered that Paislee had a small tumour in her left eye.  It was so tiny they were able cryogenically freeze it but the spot tried to regrow and “cryo” had to be utilized again in September 2016. As a result of this procedure, Paislee now has a small blind spot in her peripheral vision.  Being so young, her brain will learn to adapt to this over time.  Paislee is still checked about every 8 weeks, and has been cancer free since September of 2016. Today Paislee is a very active, happy, and healthy three year old girl. 

She is also tough – she just got her ears pierced a week ago and didn’t even flinch!  Ryan says that her very favorite activity is to play with her doctor kits.  She is constantly checking her patient “Dolly’s” temperature, blood pressure and, of course, her eyes!  He says the wonderful care she received by the more than 20 doctors, nurses and specialists in different provinces is the reason for her interest in pretending to be a doctor.  He believes she knows just how critical they have been in her life. Ryan and Alecia urge parents to have their children’s eyes checked starting at the age of six months, which are free in many provinces/health care plans in Canada.  They are committed to educating parents about the Glow that can show both in still photography but also video when a flash is being used.  Ryan will be forever grateful that Paislee’s mom, Alecia, was aware of the Glow AND that she listened to her mother’s instinct, even after the initial check told her everything was fine.