Jocelyn Held, an adorable bundle of energy with pink glasses and curly pigtails, knows things. “She knows what chemotherapy is. She knows what a port is. She knows things that no four-year-old should have to know,” explains her mom Lindsey.
For the last 23 months, Jocelyn has been fighting retinoblastoma, a very rare type of cancer that begins in the retina and almost exclusively affects children, typically before the age of 5. There are only 20,000 cases in the U.S. each year.
Lindsey first noticed a white spot in Jocelyn’s eye right around her 3rd birthday in May of 2016. The official diagnosis came in June. Since then, it’s been an all out battle.
“Jocelyn has been through six months of systemic chemo through a port. She had one round on intra-arterial chemo, which took her vision in the eye due to an adverse reaction. She also went through six rounds of direct injections of chemo in her eye. She has endured laser treatments, cryotherapy and constant eye exams – most just two-three weeks apart. We have lost count of how many times she’s been under anesthesia,” says Lindsey.
For parents Lindsey and Ethan, who “would go to the moon and back for their children,” the hardest part was telling Jocelyn “her sick eyeball had to go bye-bye.”
There were positives along the way though, too, says Lindsey. They’ve met life-long friends – other parents and other childhood cancer survivors. They’ve been uplifted by volunteers with Gwinnett Relay For Life, Rally Kids and CURE Childhood Cancer.
Jocelyn’s aggressive treatment is over. Now, she goes every three months for eye exams end every six months to the oncologist. In April, Jocelyn received her prosthetic eye. By the time you read this, new brother Ryder will have arrived to join Jocelyn and Fiona, age 3.
“She’ll go to kindergarten in the fall,” says Lindsey. “She gets to be a child again. We’re moving into normal.”