Girl Survives Extremely Rare Eye Tumor. But Doctors Thought It Was Something Else

December 14, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017

A girl went to the doctor with a puffy-looking eye, but it turned out to be much more serious than just pink eye or conjunctivitis.

Doctors first thought it was a routine eye infection and then later realized it was an invasive tumor.

Gaylene Robson, the mother, said she knew something wasn’t right when her daughter’s left eyelid turned red and puffy. Prescribed antibiotics did nothing to reduce the swelling, forcing the family to take the girl to an ophthamologist, according to MailOnline.

The girl, Stella, then was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for a CT scan, revealing that she had a tumor growing between her eye and brain.

“The tumor was growing into the orbital bone, the bone that surrounds the eye … it was roughly 1.5 centimetres and shaped like a bell,” mother Gaylene Robson told MailOnline.

The tumor would require immediate treatment. The girl then underwent surgery to remove the growth.

Stella was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare disease. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it’s a “disorder in which excess immune system cells called Langerhans cells build up in the body.” It adds: “Many researchers now consider Langerhans cell histiocytosis to be a form of cancer, but this classification remains controversial.”

A surgeon was able to remove the growth with no damage to her brain or tissue. But she then had to undergo 12 weeks of intensive chemotherapy.

“It was quite a little roller-coaster for her, she’d be emotional and hungry and tired, then she’d recover for a week and then it would be time to get back in and have another lot of treatment,” Robson said.

But after a year, she was cleared of the disease and has a 20 percent chance of recurrence.

“The words cancer, tumour, didn’t mean anything to (Stella), to an adult it’s a conversation stopper, but she just takes it in her stride,” her dad told the Geelong Advertiser. 

“It’s not technically a cancer, it’s either active or deactive, you’re not in remission,” Robson said. “She’ll have to have scans every three months for the next few years and hopefully when she’s in year 5 we can go to annual scans.”


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