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Baby Zariah battling on despite cancer

Published:Friday | July 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Baby years are expected to be filled with laughter, giggles, and joy, but that's not the case for Zariah Robinson, who has been battling bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye that affects children.

Born of Jamaican parentage, the nine-month-old was diagnosed with the disease in March. It was a moment her mother, Natoya Goulbourne-Robinson, described as heartbreaking and devastating.

"I kept seeing a light in her eye and I was wondering what it was. Then I said to myself, 'Something has to be wrong because normally a dark child won't normally [have] a cat eye'," Goulbourne-Robinson told The Gleaner.

"When her father brought her to the hospital, the doctor recommended that she see a specialist. So the next day, I brought her, and the specialist explained that it was an emergency and we would have to go overseas to get further help."




Upon conducting further tests at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the shocking news came that baby Zariah had cancer in both eyes and required immediate chemotherapy.

Her condition has resulted in complete loss of vision in her right eye and three tumours being removed from the left eye.

Goulbourne-Robinson, who resides in The Cayman Islands with her immediate family, said that her daughter was improving but that the family has to travel to the centre each time for her treatment.

"Since the treatment, the doctors have advised us she has got back 40 per cent vision in her left eye. She also wears a special (pair of glasses) to aid her sight," Goulbourne-Robinson said.

She noted that even though she has insurance coverage in the United States, she was uncertain for how long the coverage would hold.

" I don't know if they're going to drop her off or if they are going to keep her on. We're just hoping for the best. We have insurance here, but we would have to pay part of it from our pocket," Goulbourne-Robinson said.

Baby Zariah initially had to be treated every month, but as a result of her improvements, she can now be treated bi-monthly. She is expected to be treated on September 13.

Both parents and Zariah's two older siblings have to be tested for the disease as well.

"We're grateful for any assistance. It would be for the hotel and travelling, taxi, and eating purposes," Goulbourne-Robinson said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Zariah, and anyone wishing to help can contact her mother at +1-345-939-0180.

- Rocheda Bartley