Battling Retinoblastoma

9 years 10 months 3 weeks ago April 08, 2007 Apr 8, 2007 Sunday, April 08 2007 Sunday, April 08, 2007 9:28:15 PM CDT in News
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This week's Your Health with Angie Bailey takes a look at how a tough little boy and his family are coping with a rare form of cancer.

To a baby, the world is a big new place. Everything he touches and sees is a new discovery. So little Luke Smith has no idea how much he's been through, but that doesn't make his story any less touching.

Luke is 17 months old. His mother, Erin Musolf, describes him as "very sweet. He's well-behaved. He sleeps good through the night. He's just a wonderful kid."

But when Luke was around a year old, she noticed something different about the way he looked in pictures.

"When you take a photograph and you see like a red... you know like a red eye in pictures, we started noticing like a white reflect, kind of like if you see in animals and stuff. And then we started asking our pediatrician about it and found out that's one of the biggest signs," Musolf explained.

This reflection is one of the biggest signs of retinoblastoma.  Retinoblastoma is a big word for a cancer of the retina. Most of the time it's hereditary. It happens in children usually between the ages of 2 to 5. The only treatment at Luke's advanced stage is to remove the eye. Early detection is key.

"We see patients in all of mid-Missouri, so a million or more patient draw area and of those we probably see one every 2 to 4 years," said ophthalmologist Dean Hainsworth.

When Luke's mom first heard her child had retinoblastoma it was devastating.

"I just felt kind of sick, 'cause I knew exactly that was cancer," said Musolf.

The cancer appeared in both eyes, the left eye much worse than the right, so doctors had to take it out.

For a $25 donation, people went to Key Largo Fitness and Tanning for a day of fun and exercise to make a difference in baby Luke's life.

"It just touches your heart, and we just want to do what we can for him," said friend and fitness instructor Lauretta Wise. "Everybody's, like I said, been wonderful about donating and just caring. Columbia really is a very caring town."

"It's just a wonderful cause to be able to give back some of what we've been given to help his family when they need it," said Key Largo owner Melanie Karrick.

So, what can Luke look forward in the near future?

"Well, they'll have to wait for this to be completely healed and all the swelling to go down and then we'll go in and see somebody that makes the glass eye, the prosthetic," said Musolf.

Luke should get this prosthetic within the next month or two.

You can donate to the Luke Smith fund by mailing donations, send a check or money order to:

Key Largo Fitness and Tanning

701 Hillsdale Rd. Suite 101

Columbia, MO 65201.

Attn Lauretta Make checks payable to: Luke Smith Fund

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