Mother of three Jamie-Lee Schmitzer was snapping photos of her beloved four-month-old baby girl when she noticed something ominous in her toddler’s right eye in early 2017.
The 31-year-old from Taree, New South Wales, stared at the photo taken and noticed that young Ivy-Mae’s blue eye was a different dark color with a prominent white glow in the iris.
At first she rejected what she had seen, but after a few months the iris grew darker and Ivy-Mae seemed annoyed by constantly rubbing her eye.
After a visit to the local doctor, she was told that what was happening was ‘normal’ and that doctors were not concerned, but Jamie-Lee was not convinced and went for a second opinion with an eye specialist.
But after blood tests and MRI scans, in September 2017, after nine months, young Ivy-Mae was diagnosed with epithelioma (an abnormal growth that covers a layer of tissue) because the dark color was the sign of a tumor growing in her eye. .
Staring at the photo taken, the 31-year-old from Taree, New South Wales saw that young Ivy-Mae’s blue eye was a different darker color with a prominent white glow in the iris (pictured)
After blood tests and MRI scans, young Ivy-Mae was diagnosed with epithelioma (an abnormal growth covering a layer of tissue) in September 2017 at the precious age of just nine months, because the dark color was the sign of a tumor growing in her. . eye
“I knew babies’ eyes tend to change color as they grow, but this seemed odd so I went to check her out right away,” Jaimie-Lee told the Daily Mail Australia.
After a visit to the second doctor, she was referred to another eye specialist at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney, who discovered and diagnosed Ivy-Mae.
Jamie-Lee said the entire prognosis took a few weeks and it was difficult to move the family back and forth for appointments between Sydney and Taree.
“Hearing the news about the tumor was absolutely devastating and at the time my partner and I were in shock,” Jamie-Lee said. To save Ivy-Mae’s life, the eye had to be removed
“A lot of tests and MRI scans were done on the eye – doctors initially thought she had a parasite, but they ruled it out pretty quickly,” she said.
“Hearing the news about the tumor was absolutely devastating and at the time my partner and I were in shock.”
To save Ivy-Mae’s life, the eye had to be removed because it was too dangerous to perform a biopsy to determine if the tumor was cancerous.
“Because it was so close to the optic nerve, the surgeons were afraid it would spread,” she said.
“I wondered if it was the right choice to have her eye removed, but I trusted the doctors.”
“I wondered if removing her eye was the right choice, but I trusted the doctors,” said Jamie-Lee
On November 23, 2017, the surgeons removed Ivy-Mae’s right eye and inserted a ‘conformer’ (part of a fake eye)
Although the eye had to be removed, Jamie-Lee and her husband knew they had made the right decision or the cancer could have spread to other parts of her body.
The day before surgery on November 22, 2017, Ivy-Mae’s eye completely changed from a blue to a darker shade because the tumor was “killing the iris,” and Jamie-Lee knew they had made the right decision to continue. with the surgery.
“She was so cranky the morning of the surgery, but I wanted to make sure she was comfortable, so I was the one who got her into the operating room,” Jamie-Lee said.
“I said softly ‘you are my sunshine’ as she slowly fell asleep before surgery, and it was very hard to watch her little eyes close and know when she wakes up, part of her will be missing.”
After little Ivy-Mae woke up from surgery, she had a “rough time” because she was allergic to the morphine pain medication, but a few hours later it started dripping.
After the eye was removed, a biopsy was performed on the growth and determined to be cancerous.
After the eye was removed, a biopsy was performed on the growth and determined to be cancerous kanker
Despite the surgery, Ivy-Mae still has her eyelid and can blink and cry as she normally would with her natural eye
The diagnosis was considered extremely rare because this type of cancer tends to grow on the skin rather than in the eye, and also developed a type of bone growth within the tumor itself.
To this day, Jamie-Lee said she wonders why and how the cancer started, but has received few answers.
Despite the surgery, Ivy-Mae still has her eyelid and can blink and cry as she normally would with her natural eye.
To replace her eye, doctors inserted a “conformer” into the eye socket with a prosthetic “eye cup” on top, then placed a bandage over the eye to maintain pressure.
Jamie-Lee said the “hardest part” was waiting to remove the bandage and see what the eye looked like.
“I’m all for positivity and trying to show her that different is beautiful because she knows she’s not like other kids and I want her to feel like that’s okay,” she said.
SYMPTOMS OF EYE CANCER
Eye melanoma should not cause any signs and symptoms.
When they do occur, signs and symptoms of uveal melanoma may include:
- A feeling of flashes or dust particles in your vision (floaters)
- A growing dark spot on the iris
- A change in the shape of the dark circle (pupil) in the center of your eye
- Poor or blurred vision in one eye Loss of peripheral vision
Where eye melanoma occurs
Eye melanoma usually develops in the cells of the middle layer of your eye (uvea)
The uvea consists of three parts and each can be affected by uveal melanoma:
* The iris, the colored part at the front of the eye
* The choroid layer, the layer of blood vessels and connective tissue between the sclera and retina at the back of the uvea
* The ciliary body, which is located at the front of the uvea and releases the transparent fluid (aqueous humor) into the eye.
Source: Mayo Clinic
A few months later, when all the swelling had subsided, doctors fitted Ivy-Mae for an eye prosthesis, which she must wear to aid in the growth of her eye socket.
Today, Ivy-Mae is almost four years old and lives a “happy life” as she normally would compared to any other child.
She has learned to ride a bike, plays with her dolls and continues because she only knows life with one eye.
“It’s about positivity for me and showing her that different is beautiful because she knows she’s not like other kids and I want her to feel like that’s okay,” she said.
“I caught her looking at herself and the eye in the mirror, but she turns around and says, ‘Mommy, different is beautiful, isn’t it’.”
Jamie-Lee said she feels like she and her partner are raising a strong little warrior and have shared Ivy-Mae’s story on Instagram to raise awareness.
“I’ve talked to so many parents since then and so many don’t know that cancer can occur in the eye and what to look out for,” Jamie-Lee said.