Julia may only be a toddler, but her parents Chris and Jessica say she already has a larger than life personality. She’s also well on her way to beating a cancer diagnosis.
Julia’s parents first had some concerns when she was around 3 months old and they noticed a lazy eye developing. Julia’s pediatrician assured them not to worry as she was developmentally on track and there were no other issues at that time. Then they noticed her other eye start to drift. It took almost 2 months to get Julia a special eye appointment at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and on October 14th, Julia was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma of both eyes.
Retinoblastoma is a rare eye cancer that mostly affects children. There are only about 275 cases in the United States, and unfortunately, there are no treatment options in the Milwaukee area. Chris and Jessica were told they would have to seek care elsewhere in order to provide Julia with treatment, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin quickly communicated with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The team at Memorial Sloan Kettering advised the family to take the next flight to New York to finish Julia’s work-up and immediately begin treatment.
Children’s Flight of Hope has provided numerous flights to Julia and her family, as they must travel to New York every four weeks for her treatment. Julia’s mother wrote:
“Children’s Flight of Hope literally saved our daughter’s life! Without this organization I can assure you Julia would have needed enuculation of both eyes and/or she would be dead. Without this organization, families like ours who are comprised of hard working, educated parents still would struggle to afford transportation to save their most prized possession, their child. We were a healthy active family of 5 when cancer struck in our almost 18-month-old daughter. The only hope to save her life and hopefully her eyes was to see an ocular oncologist, Dr. David Abramson at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Dr. Abramson is extremely optimistic for Julia to live a long relatively healthy life! However, Julia is still not cancer free. Her many procedures include eye exams under anesthesia, laser treatments directly on her eye, intra-arterial chemotherapy, MRI’s, & lab draws all which need to be performed in New York every 4 weeks at this point in her care for continued survival. Again, saying thank you isn’t enough as we cannot even express in words our gratitude!”