Meet Heather and Dominick – Retinoblastoma Warrior
"The best feature of the NCCS is their standing policy – wherever the child needs to be seen is where they will be seen" - Heather and Dominick's father.
Having one child with cancer is devastating enough, but it’s unimaginable to have two children battling cancer and both parents are blind. But, that’s exactly what happened to Daniel and Marian.
Daniel and Marian welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Heather in 2008. At birth, she underwent genetic testing for retinoblastoma because her parents knew there was a chance she could test positive for it since her mother was a carrier of the gene and a cancer survivor, herself. They were heartbroken to learn that not only did Heather have the gene, she was born with tumors. Their son, Erik, was born two years later and underwent the same genetic testing which thankfully tested negative. However, they weren’t as lucky when their second son, Dominick was born, who also tested positive for the gene. Daniel and Marian were devastated to learn that two of their three children would have to battle this rare cancer, as well as the effects of treatment for the rest of their lives.
Heather’s treatment began with laser therapy – everyone hoped this would be effective in eliminating her tumors, but tragically it had the opposite effect – her tumors grew considerably. The doctors turned to chemotherapy which meant countless trips to and from the hospital. She completed treatment at the age of two but suffered serious side effects from the chemotherapy – Heather developed a cyst in her brain which has caused development delays. Unlike his sister, Dominick did not show tumors at birth, but during his checkup a few months later, doctors noticed tumors beginning to form. He immediately started chemotherapy – where he was seen almost every three weeks until the end of his year-long treatment plan. His parents were thrilled to learn that his treatment was successful and he displayed no signs of developmental delays.
Daniel and Marian have taken both children to hundreds of appointments at multiple hospitals over four years. Their bank accounts quickly reflected the financial burden of those trips so they reached out to the NCCS for help. The organization was there for their family, assisting with gas, meals and lodging every single time they needed it. “The best feature of the NCCS is their standing policy – wherever the child needs to be seen is where they will be seen. I can’t even begin to explain how much of a game-changer that is,” Daniel shared.