"In October 2013, our three year old daughter Ania was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer of the eye that affects approximately 300 children a year. Her father Mike was reading to her one evening and noticed a strange reflection in her eye. A quick online search of “eye glow in children” came back with some alarming information. We immediately brought her to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who officially diagnosed her with retinoblastoma in her left eye.
With that diagnosis came a whirlwind of doctor visits and recommendations. As a parent, that time was the most strenuous and surreal. Our family was thrown into a world of chaos and we had to act fast to save her life. Our daughter began a relatively new type of chemotherapy regimen (intra-arterial) that we hoped would save her life, destroy the tumor, and restore her vision.
Four months into this therapy we were given the devastating news that this form of treatment was no longer working and that her life was at risk if we continued down this path. In March 2014, it was recommended we travel from our home in Chicago to Philadelphia to see a top eye cancer specialist at Wills Eye Hospital. Upon further examination, it was seen that there were tumors covering her entire eye. To save her life, her eye had to be removed.
In April 2014, pathology results from her removed eye showed signs that cancer cells could have passed along her optic nerve and into her brain. The news was devastating as we anticipated our cancer journey’s end. Instead, we had to now watch our daughter heal from surgery and begin a six months course of traditional, systemic chemotherapy.
By October 2014, our dear child had undergone a total of 10 rounds of chemotherapy and lost her eye to cancer. What held our family together was watching our little child fight this epic battle with such strength. We began to call her our Dainty Warrior as she continued this journey with in an incredibly inspiring and creative way. Through everything, our daughter kept dancing and began painting. Her talents as a painter gained her much notoriety on television news and in social media. Our Dainty Warrior became our hero and a world-wide inspiration to many. Because her story was shared, many people aided our family along the way. Through sales of her artwork, monetary donations and gifts of service and meals, our family was blessed with no longer really having to worry of the burden of medical expenses, travel costs, meals, housekeeping, and professional photography sessions to help us document Ania’s inspiring journey through cancer.
- Dainty Warrior Blog - this blog chronicles Ania's entire journey through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and remission as the Dainty Warrior.
- NBC Chicago - March 2014 - Painting Helps 3-year Old Cope With Cancer
- NBC Chicago - October 2014 - Family: Latest MRI Shows "Dainty Warrior" Cancer-Free
- Check out some of Ania's art!
As a parent watching your child battle cancer, it is common to feel helpless and overwhelmed at the logistics of treatment plans and costs. It also becomes hard at times to maintain some sense of normalcy for the family. With the assistance of others, we were able to get through a horrific ordeal with some sense of worry relieved- and we are forever humbled by the kindness of so many.
We are grateful to all the Dainty Warrior followers and now that our daughter is in remission and on a path to healing, we are ready to now return the favor. Our family has created the Dainty Warrior Project to help other parents and children to ease the logistical burden of childhood cancer and hopefully allowing those parents to focus on what is most important to them - their child and family’s well-being. Through your donation, you will be able to directly assist another nominated family and their own “Dainty Warrior” facing childhood cancer."
- The Moriarty Family