Kay-La Ann says she is forever grateful to her Uncle and family’s intuition. She was only 5 months old when they noticed a strange Glow in Kay-La’s eyes while the family was moving her Uncle into a new home. After this was brought to Kay-La’s mother’s attention, she and Kay-La’s father looked back at photos of Kay-La and noticed the Glow in every picture baby Kay-La was in. They did not know what the Glow meant, but had a feeling it was signaling something more. They took Kay-La to the Cleveland Clinic the next day, hoping to get answers. This visit quite possibly saved her life.
The doctors at the hospital examined her and knew Kay-La had something serious developing in her eyes. They sent the family to Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia. Here they met with Dr. Carol and Jerry Shields. After many tests, they were told that Kay-La had tumors in both of her eyes, she was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma.
The cancer in her left eye was advanced. Kay-La no longer had vision in this eye. They recommended the eye be enucleated. The right eye had around 5 tumors as well. They planned to treat this eye with a laser in hopes of saving her vision. Kay-La did have her eye removed and underwent several rounds of laser treatments. She feels very lucky that the laser stopped the cancer growth. She never had to go through chemotherapy or radiation.
For the first eight years of her life, Kay-La had regular check ups to make sure there was no further growth of the tumors in her right eye. She was fitted for a prosthetic and kept regular appointments for this as well. She feels very blessed that she has remained cancer free.
Kay-La is now 24 years old. She says that life after cancer was quite normal. She played volleyball and basketball all through her youth. She did very well in school. She has never felt that her lack of vision in one eye has held her back in any way. There were of course some setbacks that she dealt with, such as insecurities during her early teenage years and kids not being so nice. These setbacks made her all the stronger of a woman though. Kay-La is now happily married and works as a class facilitator in a correctional facility. She hopes to start a family soon through In-Vitro Fertilization to stop the pattern of Retinoblastoma in its tracks.
Even though Kay-La does not remember the time when she was diagnosed, she does realize that without the persistence of her Uncle and family her life could be quite different. She is very determined to help spread awareness of the Glow in the hopes of educating others of this very important sign. She hopes that by doing so another Uncle, Aunt, Mom, Dad or friend will take notice of the Glow and help another child find the care they so desperately need.