Interview with Marissa Gonzalez

When speaking with Marissa Gonzalez one can’t help but be moved by the extraordinary gift of this amazing woman.  Both a cancer survivor herself and an advocate helping other retinoblastoma families navigate through the storm, she has been a guiding light for so many families!  KTG was happy to sit down to speak with her as she celebrates 30 years of being cancer free! 

Marissa is a survivor of retinoblastoma.  She was diagnosed with RB when she was 17 months old after her mother noticed the glow.  She would have been diagnosed even earlier had her Ophthalmologist taken Marissa’s mother’s concerns more seriously.  The initial Adult Ophthalmologist missed spotting the glow, but fortunately she was referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist who recognized and knew exactly what he was seeing in Marissa’s eye.  Yes, it was rare – very rare.

Cindy Mays, a board member and core team member at Know The Glow, met Marissa at a Retinoblastoma family day several years ago.  She remembered how amazing it was to have all these families together to give support to each other.  We C Hope had an incredible family picnic and games for the kids to play. It was such an uplifting time and was a great way to learn more about the retinoblastoma journey by sharing experiences with other families who’d traversed it.

Upon graduation from USC, Marissa launched her career working full time at the University where she soon became the Director of Fundraising and Event Management at USC’s School for the Dramatic Arts.  She has remained there for her career and loves it as much today as she did when she excitedly began.

While Marissa works as an event planner for USC, she is also a key team member at WeCHope putting her event organization skills to work there, as well.  World Eye Cancer Hope was founded initially by RB survivor, Abby White, well-known for her quote, “I am a child, not a case.”  

Together Marissa and Abby shared with KTG about the mission of We C Hope.

Sứ mệnh của chúng tôi

Every child deserves the best opportunities to overcome cancer, and to have a good quality of life beyond cure or when cure is not possible.  We bring those opportunities to children and adult survivors around the world by

Educating the public and primary health workers about retinoblastoma to achieve early diagnosis and rapid referral to specialist care;

Empowering the medical community to deliver sustainable high quality evidence-based care that gives each child and adult survivor the best possible opportunities;

Enabling family support programs that reduce practical, emotional, financial and social burdens and improve access to essential care.

Several WeCHope events are coming up soon.  Click below to check out the full calendar of events:

California Retinoblastoma Family Day

On November 5th, WE C Hope hosted the 5th annual Southern California Rb Family Day, with 80 members of the Rb community joining for a day of friendship and fun. To read more about this event, click here:

Additionally, Marissa has also organized medical conferences for Doctors and Patient interactions and is excited about helping plan the 2023 Ottawa conference with the We C Hope Canada Team.  

One Retinoblastoma World 2023 and 2024

Date: October 2023.

Location: Ottawa, Canada.

Date: October 2024.

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Event: 7th and 8th global meeting of parents, survivors and medical professionals to advance patient-centered retinoblastoma care and research. Will include presentations, collaborative discussion, workshops, networking, and child life activities. Find out more…

Marissa has been an advocate and a mentor to so many in the Retinoblastoma community.

Four years ago, she went through a surgery that impacted her vision.  While it has changed her vision it has not changed her spirit!  She is back at work and is now involved in the citizen Board of Disabilities for the city of Long Beach and reports to the Mayor.   Not surprisingly, this ambitious young woman’s next venture is to get involved in politics!  We at Know the Glow can see that as a natural next step for someone who’s always confidently putting one foot in front of the other to chart a path to make life easier for those who follow in her footsteps! 

Ms. Gonzalez is also involved with research and in advocating with the Department of Defense Grant for Detecting Sarcomas in Military Veterans and Active Military Families.

Her goals for We C Hope are to rally survivors and connect them at the family events.  Marissa spoke recently at our Jimmy Choo event on October 13, 2022, sharing her story and her mission to create new ways to collaboratively help the Retinoblastoma community.

We at KTG look forward to supporting Marissa, Abby, and all of the  members of the World Eye Cancer Hope in all their efforts as they are tremendous resources for RB parents and families.

Please feel free to email Marissa at

Thank you so much for sharing your glow story with us!

We look forward to more collaboration!!