Like many babies, Sophia was constantly sick when she started day care, but when her eye started to bulge everything changed in what her parents describe as one “terrifying goosebump moment’’.
Sophia had just turned one when her parents, Liz and Pat, noticed a difference in her eye following what they thought was yet another “day care sickness’’. She became very dehydrated and taken to hospital where an MRI was ordered.
“It was just terrifying, initially, we saw this white kind of blob, and then they just zoomed deeper and deeper. And it was just like this big spiderweb all throughout the left side of the face. It was a goosebump moment. It was horrible.’’
More tests followed over several days, and eventually Sophia was diagnosed with a type of cancer known as a germ cell tumour, behind her eye. She required surgery and chemotherapy.
“As a parent, over that first 12 months you're totally in control of your child, they totally rely on you,’’ Liz said. “And for us having to hand her future over to research and professionals. It was really hard to let go and trust - and that's what we had to do.’’
Sophia is now in remission, but Pat said returning to normal life was almost harder than treatment.
“She has five years of check-ups, it's the first two years which they're going to treat as most critical. Every month, she goes and gets a blood test. And every quarter, she gets an MRI. It is kind of a reminder that there's still a chance she could relapse."
"So, I think it's until she's cured, which isn't for a few years, it's going to be an ongoing sense of waiting. And that sense that you are helpless to affect the result.’’
Their oncologist, Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza, is on the Board of Children’s Medical Research Institute. Once the family heard about CMRI’s cancer research, they immediately wanted to be a part of the Jeans for Genes campaign.
“We’ve met so many different families, and the only difference between whether their kid is cured or ultimately dies is because of research,’’ Liz said. “When the biopsy came back for Sophia as a germ cell tumour, there was research, and therefore her chances of complete cure are very high. If it came back something different, she may not be here, or we'd be managing pain at this point. Research gives people a chance to survive.’’
Jeans for Genes Day is on Friday 5th August this year. Sign up now to start fundraising or donate any time at JeansforGenes.org.au