We travelled from Riverview to Tampa to St. Petersburg to Miami in the days after Rowan's miraculous diagnosis.

Our Story

100 miles, 13 hours, three doctors, one MRI and one CAT scan later, we learned that our daughter had retinoblastoma, an extremely aggressive and dangerous form of eye cancer. Three days, 300 miles, one hurricane, and one exam under anesthesia later, we learned that we were very fortunate that her cancer was unilateral rather than bilateral. We learned that she would likely never again see out of her left eye. We learned that we would have to decide whether to subject her to radiation treatment in an attempt to save the eye. We learned that she would have to undergo six months of extensive chemotherapy. We learned that, even if she beat retinoblastoma, she would be at an extremely high risk to develop another form of cancer in childhood or adolescence. We learned that the tumor, undiagnosed at her three-, six-, and nine-month pediatric checkups was likely present since birth and had grown to occupy almost 80% of her eye. We learned that retinoblastoma almost exclusively affects children. We learned that, because retinoblastoma affects so few children every year, most pediatricians do not bother to actually check eyes in a dark room (the only method of early detection).

We learned that, had we waited another two months until her 12-month checkup, Rowan's tumor would have in all probability spread cells outside of her eye, onto her brainstem, and into her brain. Had those cells spread, she would have most certainly died.