BOY with rare form of eye cancer improving after treatment

Wednesday, August 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A little boy is doing well after treatment for a rare kind of cancer in his eyes. He's going to survive - and will likely keep his vision, after the early discovery of an aggressive childhood cancer.

KOTV’s Emory Bryan says two and a half year old Gabriel Hamm loves to play with his two older brothers and wear his cape. He's feeling well, despite nearly three months of chemotherapy for cancer. Looking into his eyes, you'd never know tumors were hiding inside. Gabriel’s mother, Maralee Hamm, "It's just a miracle that we even found it because usually by the time you find it the child is going to lose their eye."

Gabriel's got retinoblastoma - a condition where tumors grow inside the eye. It's a rare cancer that affects about 300 children each year in the U.S. Undetected, it can spread, if detected too late; the only treatment is removal of the eye. The Hamm family was fortunate to have caught it during a routine eye exam. Gabriel’s father, Brett Hamm, “He was in for a routine eye exam and it likely saved his life.”

And now the Hamm family is focused on beating the cancer - and letting others know about this rare - but dangerous childhood disease. Brett, "We've come across a few families that heard about our case that have gone through the same thing." Gabriel's cancer is being treated with six months of chemotherapy, both in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. The family is raising money to cover the uninsured costs of his illness, and recommending other parents make sure their young children have the kind of eye exams where retinoblastoma shows up.

Maralee, “When the doctor found the tumor he was checking his vision. I think God's given this to us to have as our cause.” Gabriel’s case is responding to treatment - one eye is almost clear - the other is improving. He'll need exams for years to come - but has a great chance of keeping his sight, thanks to early detection.

Retinoblastoma can be detected soon after birth with a "dilated eye" exam. For more information, you can Click Here.