In August 2012, a routine six-month wellness visit to the pediatrician prompted one of the most tumultuous journeys of Jesus and Delilah Navarrete’s lives. They had noticed that their son Lucas’ eye appeared to turn inward, but had not really thought much about it since their eldest son’s eye had a similar appearance at the same age. The Navarrete’s had already consulted an ophthalmologist who suggested it was only an optical illusion…the gap between their older son’s eyes was a bit wider and had some excess skin…something that would disappear as soon as the bridge of his nose formed. With certainty the pediatrician would confirm the same optical illusion in Lucas’ eye, they mentioned it to the pediatrician. The pediatrician felt that the inward angle was more pronounced than that of his older brother. After a few days, they scheduled Lucas’ appointment with their ophthalmologist, Dr. Davis.
On August 31, 2012 Dr. Davis gave Delilah the first set of news that rocked their life. He mentioned that Lucas’ retina in his right eye was partially detached and that he thought there was something pushing up against the eye. He said that he wanted to rule out Retinoblastoma…a type of eye cancer. For Delilah, this was especially devastating news. She had already lost her father to stomach cancer when she was very young. How could this be happening again? That same day Delilah and Jesus got an appointment with Dr. Spencer and Dr. Chong at Texas Retina Associates. A sonogram confirmed that Lucas had a relatively large tumor in his eye indicative of Retinoblastoma. The expectation of a routine appointment became a decision that may be been the difference between life and death for Lucas.
The couple immediately immersed themselves in all things Retinoblastoma. Soon after they were able to secure an appointment with Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia for the following day.
After what seemed like an eternal trip to Philadelphia to consult with another team of experts, the Navarrete’s opted to take the most conservative approach and enucleate (remove) their son’s eye…singlehandedly the most difficult decision that either parent had ever made.
Three years later, Lucas is a VERY active and determined kiddo and will celebrate being 3-years-cancer-free. Both Jesus and Delilah often say that Lucas has taught them what perseverance and true strength are. Some good has come from this terrible circumstance. In what Jesus and Delilah refer to as a divine meeting, they had a chance meeting with Peter Montana, CEO of Miraflex USA, when they visited Dallas Youth Optical to have Lucas fitted for some protective lenses compliment of Specs for Little Heroes. Billy Franz, their youth optician, had just heard their personal story and how Miraflex glasses are often recommended by other Retinoblastoma parents. Billy introduced Jesus and Delilah to Peter and when he heard about their story and those of other Retinoblastoma parents Mr. Montana encouraged the Navarrete’s to get him in contact with Specs for Little Heroes.
Delilah wrote for her church women’s magazine the following excerpt:
I was reading a blog of a woman who had lost her premature baby three hours after delivering her. She and her husband had planned to have a large family, but because of the circumstances surrounding the loss of her child, every future pregnancy would be extremely risky. Then, she posted a quote that struck me, “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”
The Navarrete’s say that they learned that their mindset had to change. They learned to look at Lucas’ illness with complete trust in God and to know that although their family suffered through this ordeal there was a silver lining in it. They know that they have a small role in helping other Retinoblastoma families now. They have learned to lay any situation down and trust that God is more than enough.