Two-year-old Miranda from the Atherton Tablelands was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (a type of cancer in the eye) just before her second birthday. Her journey began when her mum, Yolanda, noticed a strange white reflection in Miranda’s right eye. Over the next couple of weeks Yolanda noticed the white reflection more often, especially when Miranda’s eyes were looking down.
Yolanda felt something wasn’t right, so she booked an appointment with their family GP, who suspected a retinoblastoma, and immediately referred Miranda to a specialist in Cairns for a formal confirmation. The specialist found a large tumour in Miranda’s eye and warned her family that there was a risk the eye may have to be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading and becoming life-threatening. Miranda and her family then boarded the next available flight to Brisbane, so Miranda could be treated by the paediatric oncology and ophthalmology specialists at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. Tests found that the tumour was at a critical stage, and Miranda’s family had the unenviable task of deciding whether to remove her eye to reduce the risk of the cancer spreading to her brain or to save the eye and accept the risk.
They chose to try to save her eye and she started her first round of chemotherapy. Three weeks later, further tests showed the tumour had shrunk dramatically. However, there were fragments of the tumour throughout the fluid in the back of the eye and the risk of the cancer spreading had increased. Miranda and her family never gave up hope, though, and as her chemotherapy progressed, she continued to make positive progress. In total, she had six cycles of chemo, three injections of a chemotherapy drug directly into the back of her eye and cryotherapy.
While Miranda’s cancer journey is ongoing, she is doing well, and it’s likely she will be able to keep her eye and most of her vision. The tumour has regressed, but her doctors are monitoring a small fuzzy area of her eye.
Yolanda said the journey has been extremely challenging, but she was grateful to still have her little girl with good vision.
“Miranda has no idea about her cancer and watching her live in the moment has helped us live in the moment, too,” Yolanda said.
“She is just like any toddler – she loves being active, climbing on things, playing with her older siblings and reading stories.”
“My advice to parents is that if you notice something wrong with your child, even if no one else can see it, just take them for a check-up with your GP. If we had waited with Miranda, things may have been very different.”