Poppy’s story as written by Mum, Rhiannon Watson.
Our Poppy Joy was 3.5 weeks old when I noticed a moon-like reflection in her right eye when I was breastfeeding. When she was in any other position her eyes looked perfectly normal but in this one position while I was feeding her I could see something wasn’t right.
I could remember reading years and years ago on the internet a story of a little girl who had a tumor in her eye and it was only picked up because of a glow that could be seen when you use the flash on your camera. I still had hope that this wasn’t the case because Poppy’s was visible without any flash but that story helped me to recognise that something wasn’t right.
We headed straight to an optometrist who specializes in working with kids and he had a look. He didn’t do a lot of talking but basically said it would be his recommendation to head straight to emergency and that he would phone ahead for us.
Once we arrived at the Queensland Children’s Hospital emergency department they were quick to send us through to the Ophthalmology department. Once there they ran a number of tests and called in the on-call senior doctor and an oncologist who talked us through a few possibilities of what this could be. We were admitted for the night so they could do an MRI the following morning, after the MRI the team of doctors came and let us know that Poppy had a mass in her eye socket which was filling more than 50% of her eye and that it was most likely Retinoblastoma.
They wanted to be sure of their decision so they took it to a national team meeting a few days later and called us the following day. All the doctors had come to the conclusion that the best option would be for an enucleation (in other words, removal of her eye.)
We needed to act quickly because of the size of the tumour , so we were booked for the following day. We went home and spoke to our big kids about what was happening and prepared them as best we could to say goodbye to our little girl’s eye.
While she was in theatre she also had a lumbar puncture and some bone marrow taken and the results all came back great. The tumor hadn’t made it to the optic nerve which meant there would be no need for chemotherapy.
From there her eye was sent away for genetic testing. While waiting for the results to come back she went in fortnightly for eye exams under general anaesthetic to check on her left eye. Eight weeks later the genetic test results came back showing that she did in fact have the hereditary form of retinoblastoma. This meant that because she is susceptible to these tumours she would continue to have eye exams every couple of weeks to look for anything developing in her left eye.
Since then she has had quite a lot of eye exams and a couple of MRIs to which they have found two little tumours that have been immediately treated by cryotherapy.
It took a little while due to Covid delays but a couple of months after her eye removal Poppy received her prosthetic eye and she has had no issues with it and it looks amazing.
Our girl is now 11 months old, and is so brave and I feel so privileged to walk this journey with her.
I’m so grateful to Dr Jaclyn White and her team, and to listening to the little voice in my head that reminded me that seeing something abnormal in the eye could be something concerning. We know the future is wonderfully bright for Poppy now!
Thanks,Rhianon (Poppy’s mum)