Jake and Jill Camp of Lantana welcomed their daughter, Lilly, at the end of November 2014. For more than eight months, Lilly appeared to be a typical happy and healthy baby.
On August 3, her parents learned that, although she was still happy, she was far from healthy.
“Lilly was down on the floor playing with her mom,” said Jake Camp. “She looked up and Jill noticed that the reflection of the light in Lilly’s left eye was a cloudy white in the pupil. Jill looked at Lilly’s eyes again and each time the left pupil was cloudy.”
The couple immediately took Lilly to the Children’s Urgent Care Clinic in Flower Mound, where the pediatrician assessed the infant’s eye and made an initial diagnosis of retinoblastoma, a rare childhood eye cancer.
She told the Camps that they needed to take Lilly down to Cook’s Children’s Hospital in Dallas right then. She called the hospital to alert the staff that Lilly and her parents were on their way.
“That trip was awful,” said Camp. “Her mom was just an [emotional] mess and I was just trying to concentrate on driving carefully to get us to Dallas.”
The doctors in Dallas confirmed the diagnosis and scheduled Lilly for an in-the-eye exam done under anesthesia to determine the extent of the cancer for the following day. The good news was that the MRI showed that the tumor was confined to the eye and not spread to her brain. The bad news was that the cancer was in both eyes.
“They said that the tumor in her left eye was touching her optic nerve and that she was already blind in that eye,” said Camp. “We had no idea, because her eye muscles moved together in unison. The tumor in her right eye isn’t as large and isn’t touching that optic nerve, so she has vision in that eye.”
Lilly’s left eye was removed on August 6. She began a six-month chemotherapy treatment to shrink the tumor in her right eye. A check on that tumor is set for the end of September.
“If the re-check shows the tumor has shrunk to the right degree, then it can be zapped with a laser … like how cataracts are treated,” said Camp. He added that Lilly appears to be tolerating the chemo well.
“She’s lost some of her hair and had some constipation, but hasn’t had any fever and the little bit of nausea she had has gone,” said Camp. “She has weekly blood tests and takes an antibiotic as pneumonia prevention, but she seems just fine with all of it.”
Both Jake and Jill are graduates of Marcus High School and have family and many friends in the area to support them. An online fundraising site to help with Lilly’s medical expenses has more than 160 contributors in just over 20 days.
“The love and support we’ve had has been overwhelming,” said Camp. “The owners of Bahama Buck’s in Double Oak, Jared and Cindy Rosckes, had heard about the ‘gofundme.com’ site online and held a fundraiser on Tuesday [August 25] and then just handed over a check to us; just amazing!”
Lilly’s retinoblastoma is a rare form of childhood cancer, with only 250 to 300 cases are diagnosed per year. It typically affects mostly infants to two-year old toddlers, but may affect children up to age six.
Camp said that parents can do a very simple check on their children by simply turning off the lights in a room and taking a flash picture of their child.
“If the pupil shows black or ‘red eye’ as a reflection of the flash in the picture, then that’s normal,” he said. “If it shows up as white or cloudy, an immediate visit to the doctor is a must.”