This is Joseph’s story, he lives in New Zealand and his parents say: “To gain fresh perspective on life is a privilege.”
I was sitting at the table feeding Joseph his lunch when I realised I could see the inside of his eye. Having no idea that ‚cancer of the eye‘ was even a possibility, we trotted off to the doctor hoping to get things underway to fix it. The three weeks that followed were a whirlwind as we discovered that it was bilateral retinoblastoma, that it required the removal of his right eye and 6-9 months of treatment to clear the growth in the left eye. So with no other way to go but forward, we began the journey of cancer treatment. Life was so busy – Joseph wasn‘t yet two and has an older sister who was four at the time and baby brother was due in 6 weeks, so eve- rything else in life got put on hold and we began focusing on our little growing family, carrying Joseph through this next chapter.
Joseph‘s treatment required a monthly eye exam under general anaesthesic, regular MRI also under general anaesthesic, monthly chemotherapy, regular ‚G.C.S.F‘ boosts for building immunity, regular pediatric visits and countless blood tests. We live three hours south of Auckland where most of these procedures take place so each month we would drive up and stay for three nights, cramming everything into the three days then make the trip home. We‘re blessed to have wonderful family and friends around us – forever thankful!
What followed where many months of complete focus on Joseph, his siblings, of isolation because of Joseph’s low immunity, of little social interaction. Time went by – seven months later the specialist was giving us the routine update. We were in the quiet recovery room with sleeping Joseph, when she added at the end of her update “so this week will be the last round of chemotherapy.” She was so calm and she barely flinched as she said it that we almost missed the announce- ment. We looked at each other confused and a bit stunned for a moment, and then came the joyous outburst like an explosion of emotions, resulting in my completely uncalculated, involuntary shout “i LOVE you!!” to the specialist and an embrace like no other. We‘d won! The cancer had given up the fight. Two years later and he has perfect vision in his left eye and knows no different. He runs, climbs and balances like any other kid. His immunity came back up and he now attends preschool and loves his group of friends and teachers.
We know it‘s not the end of the journey but you take those victories and celebrate like crazy. And the prosthetic eye is just beautiful, something to celebrate on its own. It‘s been two years since diagnosis and the journey is all a blur now. We have to remind ourselves that it did happen and that it was a lot harder than we remember now. For us, as awful as it was at the time, there were more things to be thankful for than not and when you think about it, to gain fresh perspective on life is a priviledge.
Thanks to Joseph’s parents, Rebekah and Blair Reeve, Te Puke, New Zealand
28.01.2019 | Stories