Mia Rose’s Mount Everest
They say through adversity comes strength, and that couldn’t be closer to the truth for Mia Rose. The 20-month-old has already climbed her own ‘Mount Everest’, after she was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer as a baby.
Mia Rose was only a couple of months old when her parents, Carlie and Daniel, noticed a slight turn in one of her eyes. They took her to their local GP, who referred Mia Rose to an ophthalmologist, where she was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma – a rare type of eye cancer that develops in the retina, usually in early childhood. For Mia Rose, it had developed in both eyes.
While her condition was picked up early, further testing in Brisbane, near where Mia Rose lives, revealed she had many difficult-to-treat tumours of different sizes in both eyes. If these spread beyond her eyes, they could be life-threatening.
Mia Rose received six cycles of intense chemotherapy over six months, followed by a combination of treatments directly on her eyes using a combination of lasers to burn the cancers and cryotherapy to freeze them.
While initial signs showed a reduction in growth, it didn’t eradicate them completely and soon they not only began to grow back, but also began to spread.
In need of a different treatment option, Mia Rose was referred to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) to try an innovative new strategy, Intra Arterial Chemotherapy (IAC), delivered through the Interventional Radiology Suite.
Generously funded by Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation (SCHF), thanks to the support of Sargents Pies Charitable Foundation, the Interventional Radiology (IR) Suite uses minimally invasive techniques with imaging guidance such as X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans and MRIs to perform intricate procedures without the need for big cuts or incisions.
The Suite helps treat a range of conditions, including cancers, and with the support of SCHF, enables highly trained IR staff to use the latest medical equipment and technology to ensure individualised and transformative care for children and young people.
For Mia Rose, this meant paediatric interventional neuroradiologist, Dr Kartik Bhatia, could deliver powerful chemotherapy drugs directly into the blood vessels that fed the tumours in Mia Rose’s eyes – something that would not have otherwise been possible given the tumour’s location.
“It’s hard to put into words what Mia Rose’s treatment at CHW means to us. Without this, her eyes probably would have needed to be surgically removed, leaving her with no sight and seriously impacting her quality of life. It’s also much more likely the tumours would have spread beyond her eyes,” Daniel said.
“This was a time of total despair for our family, but the teams in both Interventional Radiology and the Cancer Centre for Children did everything in their power to ensure the best possible outcome for our little girl, with the perfect blend of compassion and technical ability.”
Daniel said the support of family and friends has also made a journey that would otherwise seem impossible, possible.
“It is impossible to thank everyone enough for what they have been able to do for Mia Rose and our family, but we will be forever grateful and hold each one of these incredible people close to our hearts.”
Although Mia Rose hasn’t yet completed treatment, the combination of intravenous chemotherapy, IAC, laser and cryotherapy is showing promising results in reducing and controlling the tumours, and her family say she is happy beyond words.
“Mia Rose is a ray of sunshine, lighting up the worlds of everyone around her.”
“She has climbed her own Mount Everest and has never taken the smile off her face. Although we still have a long way to go, her resilience and giggles give us strength,” Daniel said.
“Our family motto has become ‘We’ve got this’ and our refreshed outlook on life and ability to live in the moment is a gift that we will forever be thankful for.”
To help support the transformative care of teams like the Interventional Radiology team, visit www.schf.org.au