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.
Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund was established in England and Canada to raise funds for Rati’s care.
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 Rati’s life in Africa were missed. Brenda and Abby felt challenged to improve care for other children 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.
While focusing on improving care in Africa, Abby receives many requests for help from around the world, including from the USA. Providing information, advice, advocacy and practical help, Abby became increasingly concerned about the serious challenges many families encounter, and the lack of national effort to improve care.
Recognizing the unique challenges for families affected by retinoblastoma in the USA, and honoring the many stateside supporters of our work, we established Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund USA in 2012.
In September 2015, together with our friends in Canada and the UK, Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund rebranded to become World Eye Cancer Hope (WE C Hope).
Inspired by Rati’s teaching, Daisy’s gift, and the needless suffering endured by so many children like them, we aspire to bring life and sight saving care to every child with eye cancer across the USA and around the world.
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 across Africa.