RB Picnic Promises a Heartwarming Celebration of Life Along with Colorful,
Fun Activities for Children Who Have Survived RB, Cancer of the Eye
fourth annual RB Picnic, coordinated by the Emory Eye Center, will be
held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at WD Thompson Park,
off Mason Mill Road in Decatur. This very special event promises a day
of fun and celebration for both the young patients and their families
who have faced this formerly fatal childhood cancer of the eye called
RB, which is a tumor of the
retina (the back of the eye) can be hereditary or non-hereditary. When
hereditary, it can affect both eyes and sometimes other organs of the
body, whereas the non-hereditary type will usually only affect one eye.
RB mainly affects young children and occurs in one in 20,000 live births.
In its most serious form, it can metastasize to other parts of the body,
resulting in death. In decades past, RB often meant certain death for
"Over the last 20 to 30 years,
with the advent of better chemotherapy, radiation treatment, cryotherapy
and laser ablation of early or recurrent tumors, young RB patients‚
results have almost completely reversed," says Thomas M. Aaberg Sr.,
director of the Emory Eye Center. "Now the survival rate of this previously
fatal disease -- in almost all cases -- is in the high 90% rate. Today's
physicians often have the luxury of concern over saving the eye -- not
just the child."
On May 18 some 45 to 60 young
patients, typically ranging in ages from infancy up to 12 years, and
their families come from all over Georgia and the Southeast -- and as
far away as Bulgaria. That Bulgarian family even schedules their child's
annual appointment for the same week so they can be here for this important
day. The highly anticipated day of celebration includes clowns, food,
a magic show, entertainment from Star Wars "Storm Troopers," and Happy
Tails pet assisted therapy (among the pets is a Pug dog, blind in one
eye, like some of the children who will attend). A generous lunch is
provided courtesy Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-A.
"I really look forward to
this event," says Baker Hubbard, MD, pediatric retinal specialist who
treats these children. "It is encouraging to see all the children together
in a non-medical atmosphere where we can all relax and enjoy the fun
"This event is so special
because it provides those parents who may have a child newly diagnosed
with RB the realization that this disease can have an outcome that is
extremely positive," says Rhonda Waldron, diagnostic echographer at
the Emory Eye Center, who has organized the RB Picnic each year. "Even
in the event that a child has to have an enucleation (eye removal),
these parents can see that other children with prosthetic eyes look
quite normal -- and function in the same ways as other children. By
meeting other, more experienced parents who have successfully dealt
with their child's diagnosis, mothers and dads new to the disease see
that there is much to be hopeful about. Their shared experiences are
so helpful and meaningful."
"We continue to be thrilled
about this event and what it means to these families," says Dr. Aaberg.
"Our physicians who deal with these children are increasingly encouraged
by today's new treatments and results. It is heartwarming to have one
special day of the year to celebrate this wonderful event."
EDITORS: Interview families
will be available day of picnic; earlier if necessary.
Contact: Joy Bell, 404-778-3711;
page: 404-686-5500, #10384; firstname.lastname@example.org