At just 18-months old, little Zoe Reid was diagnosed with retinoblastoma after RCH ophthalmologists discovered a cancerous tumour in her right eye.
Noticing an eye-turn just prior to her first birthday, followed by a slight glow in her eye while in the dark, Zoe’s mum, Leesa became concerned, and headed straight to her local GP.
“We first noticed when Zoe was around 12 months old, that she would go cross eyed quite a bit,” said Leesa.
“We dismissed it as being normal, as it usually happened when she was looking at something closely. Then one eye began to become more crossed than the other, but again, we didn’t think too much of it.
“It wasn’t until one day I noticed Zoe’s right eye seemed to glow in dark light. I thought it was strange but didn’t really know what it meant, until the next day when I was visiting a friend who also noticed Zoe’s eye glow. My friend alerted me to what it could mean, as she had recently read a story about a little boy who had retinoblastoma, and the picture looked a lot like Zoe’s eye. This is when I looked into it further.”
Just ten days after her initial doctor’s appointment, Zoe underwent surgery at the RCH to have her affected eye removed. Luckily, the tumour that took the vision from Zoe’s right eye had not yet spread beyond the eye, meaning that Zoe avoided chemotherapy and was able to have her prosthetic eye fitted, just six months later.
Zoe is now a healthy, happy nine-year old girl, who loves basketball, surfing and skateboarding. She has no problem getting up in front of her class at school to share stories about her journey with the RCH, which has helped other children understand her experience.
“Through our journey with the RCH, we have had amazing support from the ophthalmology team, and the hospital’s retinoblastoma care coordinator, Sandra,” said Leesa.
“The staff were always there and happy to answer any of our questions, which meant we always felt informed and involved in Zoe’s care. It wasn’t without up’s and down’s, but I have no doubt that the right decisions were made for Zoe, and our family has no regrets in the decision to remove her eye.
“We are so grateful that Zoe responded so well to her surgery and have loved watching her grow into a happy, confident nine year old girl.”
This week is World Retinoblastoma Week – a week to raise awareness for children like Zoe who have suffered from the rare condition, while aiming to education parents and families about the early signs of retinoblastoma.