World Eye Cancer Hope was inspired by two brave girls from opposite ends of the world.
Our story begins with Daisy, a wonderful young lady from southern England who battled eye cancer for five years.
Daisy’s family established The Daisy Fund to fundraise for specialist care in Canada that was unavailable in the UK.
Seeds of Hope
On September 29, 2004, Abby White, a retinoblastoma survivor and friend of Daisy’s family, received an email from a mother in Botswana (southern Africa) whose two-year-old daughter had the same cancer. By coincidence, September 29th is also the Feast of St Michael, Patron Saint of Sick Children, often celebrated with wreathes of Michaelmas Daisies.
Gorata (Rati) was diagnosed with a recurrence of retinoblastoma following removal of her eye 19 months before. Such a recurrence is rare in developed countries, but very common in developing countries due to late diagnosis, poor access to expert care and lack of compassionate family support.
Abby began advocating for Rati and her family. When Daisy’s Canadian doctor (Brenda Gallie) offered to help, her parents donated money from The Daisy Fund to enable international travel and initial treatment. Four weeks after Abby received the first email, Rati began intensive therapy at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.
We established Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund, in England and at SickKids Foundation, to raise funds for Rati’s care. The UK fund achieved official charity registration in September 2005.
Beyond One Child, WE C Hope for All
Rati responded very well to therapy for a year, but the gift of expert care came to late for her and the cancer returned. She died on 21 August, 2006. Multiple opportunities to save her life in Africa were missed, and she challenged us to improve care for children like her who suffer so greatly.
In November 2006, Brenda and Abby flew to Kenya to explore how the organization might begin to answer Rati’s Challenge. This visit led to the launch of the Kenyan National Retinoblastoma Strategy, a model for effective care of children with eye cancer in developing countries.
Inspired by Rati’s teaching, Daisy’s gift, and the needless suffering both girls endured, we aspire to bring the promise of life and sight to every child with eye cancer. In September 2015, we rebranded to become World Eye Cancer Hope.
Daisy and Rati never met. Yet the twining of their lives created a beautiful planting of seeds that are now blooming into hope for thousands of children, families and adult survivors worldwide.