Jennifer and her husband were thrilled when they welcomed their second child, Audrey, into the world three weeks early. She was born with respiratory distress and needed to be monitored closely. Concerned about this issue and any other potential complications due to her early arrival, Jennifer was comforted when the doctors sent Audrey to the NICU for tests and observation to make sure all of her systems were fully developed and that there were no abnormalities. Audrey easily passed all of her exams. She was a very happy, healthy baby and was sent home after one week.
When Audrey was about five months old, Jennifer started to notice her left eye would occasionally stray. Only Jennifer noticed this misalignment as it happened very quickly and infrequently. One day, Jennifer captured what she was noticing in a photo. She brought the photo to her pediatrician who referred her to a pediatric ophthalmologist who specialized in strabismus. Unfortunately, they had to wait two months for this appointment. During this time, Jennifer continued to notice Audrey’s eye stray outward. She was anxious to find answers.
When Audrey was seven months old they finally had their visit with the specialist. Jennifer says it did not take long after her eyes were dilated that the doctor began to chart out many tumors in her eyes. Jennifer was shocked when the doctor told her that Audrey had Bilateral Retinoblastoma, cancer in both of her eyes. She was prepared to hear that Audrey needed glasses, not cancer!
Soon after, Audrey had an MRI that determined that the tumors in her eyes were advanced. Her left eye had D/E classification and the right eye was classified a B. She had a port placed and immediately started systemic chemotherapy. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Audrey had a clear exam under anesthesia. They were thrilled to learn that the cancer was responding to treatment. She was monitored closely. A few months later, Audrey’s cancer began to reappear. Since then she has been through four rounds of Intra Arterial Chemotherapy, 3 rounds of Intravitreal Chemotherapy, and many laser and cryogenic treatments.
Through all of her treatment, Audrey has remained a very happy, active little girl. She loves to play with her older brother. Audrey receives therapy services, early intervention therapies at home and participates in occupational therapy, as well as speech therapy. Cancer has left her with very limited vision in her left eye, only seeing light and shadows. Chemotherapy has saved most of the vision in her right eye but she is fighting her third recurrence. Audrey is a warrior, a fighter, and a true superhero.
Looking back, Jennifer has found photos where Audrey exhibited the Glow as early as even only a few days old. She did not realize at the time that the Glow was signaling the tumors growing in Audrey’s eyes. Jennifer wants to share their family’s story with as many as possible to educate parents about the Glow and to encourage parents to act when they notice changes in their child’s eyes.If you would like to learn more of Audrey’s story or help the family financially, please visit their GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/zah7k-audreys-battle-with-retinoblastoma