This brave little girl had to have her eye removed after what doctors thought was pink eye turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer spreading to her brain.
In December 2018, Kinsley Peacock, 7, from Sarasota, Florida, was taken to the doctor by her software company owner mum, Kim, 39, and dad Adam, 36, after redness appeared in her right eye.
Their GP diagnosed Kinsley with pink eye, or conjunctivitis, and she was sent home with a course of antibiotics.
One week later, Kinsley’s eye was not any better and her parents sought a second opinion from an eye specialist who concluded that the young girl could have a detached retina or maybe even a tumour behind her eye.
“When we heard the word tumour, we sank to our knees," Kim said.
"Less than a year prior we had attended the funeral of a friend whose seven-year-old daughter Avery had died from a brain tumour."
Kim and Adam immediately took her to have an ultrasound and were relieved when the doctor told them he was 99 per cent sure that it was not a tumour, but instead a damaged retina.
However, while visiting another eye specialist to determine the damage to her retina, Kim and Adam’s world came crashing down.
Their then four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, an extremely rare and aggressive eye cancer.
Removing eye saves child's eye
“It was every parent’s worst nightmare. It was a moment of pure fear, darkness and uncertainty not knowing if our sweet girl was going to be taken from us," Kim said.
“We were told that if it wasn’t stopped quickly enough her form of cancer, known as retinoblastoma, would spread down Kinsley’s optic nerve and into her brain.
“Having a complete lack of control over saving Kinsley’s life was incredibly difficult for us."
After two rounds of aggressive chemotherapy that made her incredibly sick, doctors assessed the state of Kinsley’s eye.
Determining that there was a distinct risk that her cancer could spread to her brain, the decision was taken to remove Kinsley’s right eye in January 2019 to save her life.
After six weeks of healing at home, she was fitted with a custom made prosthetic eye, measured and designed specifically to match her left eye.
Kim said Kinsley has taken having one eye in her stride and fortunately hasn’t suffered any bullying as a result.
While some kids do ask about what happened to her eye, she tells them with pride.
Kinsley’s younger brother Reid, 4, was only two-years-old when her eye was removed, but thinks that it has given his older sister superpowers.
Fortunately, the cancer was all contained to Kinsley’s right eye and she was declared cancer-free in the spring of 2019.
She must visit an ocular oncologist every four months and has a brain and orbital MRI every year to ensure she remains clear of cancer.
Kinsey raises $250k for cancer centres
During her recovery, Kinsley developed a love of baking to stave off the boredom of being at home and often made cookies.
Deciding to share her tasty creations with her neighbours and school friends, Kinsley obtained a reputation for her delicious treats.
She then had the idea of selling her cookies and donating the proceeds to help other children suffering from cancer.
Her dad, Adam, spent countless nights building a cookie cart from which Kinsley could sell her creations and since then has dedicated much of her free time to fundraising.
In total, the now seven-year-old has raised an astonishing A$251,726 selling cookies and hosting fundraising events.
In 2021 alone, Kinsley aims to raise A$130,000 for paediatric cancer centres.
She has even had a customised prosthetic eye created for her which contains a retina that resembles a cookie to commemorate her incredible achievements.
“For Kinsley, cancer took her eye, but she never lost her positive spirit, her kind heart and her willingness to help others," Kim said.
“The mission of Kinsley’s cookie cart is to raise awareness for paediatric cancer and provide children who are fighting cancer with items that bring them comfort including iPads, blankets, hospital decorations and protective glasses for others with retinoblastoma.
“Having been one of the families struggling in the hospital, we know just how much of an impact these small acts of kindness can have.”
With the current options to fight childhood cancer being limited due to the aggressive nature of the treatment, Kim, Adam and Kinsley hope that their fundraising efforts will go towards research into new treatments that are more suitable for children.
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