Sam’s Glow Story

Sam’s father, Charlie, was born with Retinoblastoma. Despite his mother’s concerns, it took five months until his doctors took her seriously and discovered he had this potentially fatal cancer. At the time of his diagnosis, Charlie was six months old and his tumor had advanced to the point where his left eye needed to be enucleated. Charlie was the first in his family to have RB, though he does have the hereditary type of retinoblastoma. At the time, radiation was the only treatment for this type of disease, which he bravely endured.

Unfortunately, when Charlie was five years old, the cancer returned. This time he was treated with several rounds of chemotherapy and cryotherapy. Once again, Charlie bravely fought and eventually conquered his cancer.

Years later, Charlie married and, as a couple, he and his wife Janice decided to start a family. Having been through so much as a child, Charlie hoped he wouldn’t have to go through it all again with his own children. Charlie and Janice were worried because even though his cancer had appeared spontaneously, Charlie carries the RB gene. They were told that the chance of his children being born with retinoblastoma was similar to the toss of a coin. Janice and Charlie were very relieved when their first child was born completely healthy and that he did not have the RB gene.

However, three years later, their daughter Sam was born. Within the first 24 hours after birth, she was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. A small Class A tumor was discovered in one eye with a Class C tumor in the other. The family was flown immediately to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. Ironically, this was the same team, under the same doctor, Dr. Brenda Gallie, that had treated and cared for Charlie as a child.

Within the first two months of her tiny life, Sam underwent cryotherapy and laser therapy, had a port installed and completed two rounds of chemotherapy.

When she was 2 and a half years old, Sam’s port was removed but at the age of 3 and a half she relapsed. The doctors discovered a tumor growing from the back of her eye into the eye socket. They once again installed a port and Sam endured five additional rounds of chemotherapy. Despite this treatment, it was decided that enucleation was the best option to fight her aggressive cancer. Her eye was removed on September 28th of 2015. She also received a stem cell transplant.

Since that day, Sam has been cancer free and is now a vibrant thriving 10 year old!

Sam’s mom, Janice, tells us that Sam has been amazingly resilient through all of her treatments. With Dr. Gallie watching over them, they are confident there is nothing Sam can not handle. Sam is scanned annually and has been willing to go along with most anything, although she has made it quite clear to her parents that she doesn’t like needles, and we totally understand her!! Sam, good luck, and stay well!

We look forward to watching this amazing family as they continue to support each other through their life’s journey. We hope that in reading their story more parents will have faith in their parental instincts and keep asking questions until they get answers that bring clarity and a path forward to care.