Grace was born in August 2010 and found abandoned when she was 3 months old. She is diagnosed with congenital deafness and retinoblastoma (eye cancer). With the inability to hear, Grace seldom communicated with the outside world in her infancy. By the age of 6 months, Grace received an official diagnosis of retinoblastoma and began chemotherapy. She received surgery on her right eye, where the cancer was located, that led to blindness in that eye. Her caretakers noted that “she suffered so much unbearable pain, even for an adult, but under considerate care of our nanny, she gradually and toughly grew up.”
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AGENCY DESIGNATED SPECIAL FOCUS CHILD
By the time she was two years old, Grace was up and moving about. She struggled to navigate with her limited vision, yet she carefully and persistently continued to try and walk on her own as much as possible. Grace loved to play with her peers and interact with her caretakers. She would laugh happily upon seeing the praise and admiration on the faces of those around her. Grace’s social skills were developing normally despite her extra challenges. She even made sure to clean up after herself when she finished playing for the day.
Grace was described as a curious, smart, adorable, and helpful girl with strong self-care ability. When she was 3 years old, Grace joined a foster family on the orphanage’s grounds. This living situation provided Grace with love and support from her foster parents and siblings. While here, her physical and mental development progressed rapidly. She often engaged in active play with her siblings. She danced even though she couldn’t hear the music, she gently touched the beautiful flowers outside, and she imitated the actions of those around her.
A few months after her third birthday, Grace had a setback. The cancer had spread to her left eye and surgery was required, leaving her blind in both eyes. She also underwent more rounds of chemotherapy to ensure the cancer did not return. Grace’s foster family was very supportive during this time. They helped her put her hat on each morning since she had lost her hair during the chemotherapy, her brothers teased her to try and get her to laugh, and they brought her food before serving themselves. Even though Grace could not see or hear, she could feel the love of her family. She became stronger and would face the new difficulties with a positive and optimistic outlook.
Grace surprised everyone with her impressive development of fine and gross motor skills. Grace had no means of formal communication, but would understand directions given to her. She would even help her foster brother with intellectual disabilities to unbutton his coat at the end of the day. Grace is now 5.5 years old and she is described as friendly, helpful, optimistic, and cheerful. At this time, there is no sign of cancer cell spread or metastasis. Grace’s optimism has helped her become a healthy and happy young girl.
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