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Bright future forecast for 3-year-old cancer survivor

Cru Silva was diagnosed with a type of eye cancer when he was 18 months old. After nearly a year of treatments, he's healthy and back home in Hawaii.

Now, 3-year-old Cru Silva is home in Maui, racing trucks and riding tricycles.

But in October 2017, what was expected to be a quick eye exam for glassy reflection in Cru's right eye turned into a diagnosis of a rare form of eye cancer, found primarily in young children due to either random or hereditary genetic mutation. The cancer is known as bilateral retinoblastoma. It develops rapidly from the immature cells of the retina, and for Cru, this resulted in multiple tumors forming in both his eyes.

One week later, the Silva family flew from their home in Hawaii to the San Francisco Bay Area to be under the care of Prithvi Mruthyunjaya, MD, director of ocular oncology at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford.

Cru then underwent nine months of treatment at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, consisting of chemotherapy, lasers, and cryotherapy, to attack the cancer cells near his eyes, a Packard Children's article explains. As treatment ramped up, the tumor in his left eye seemed so extensive that there was a high chance he would have to have his left eye removed.

The key for Cru and his family was to remain positive at every step of the journey. "You don't know what to expect," said Cru's mother, Janelle, "so you just have to make the best situation out of every day." Cru's relatives made frequent visits to California to be with him as he navigated treatments, his brother visited during school holidays. Cru's care team continued to make promising advances in his case, managing to save his left eye while still successfully completing treatment.

Cru's optimism and happy demeanor stood out, said Mruthyunjaya: "Cru is a wonderful young boy. He has an ability to make everyone in a room smile; his smile stands in line with his resilience."

In September 2018, after almost a year of treatments at Packard Children's, Cru's left eye tumors became inactivated and showed no signs of regrowth. And, his condition stabilized enough to return home to Maui. Although he will return to Packard Children's every few months for routine examinations and checkups, Cru is happily back home, playing outdoors and enjoying the island life, as his eyes continue to get stronger every day. The risk of reactivation also declines as Cru gets older, physicians said.

Mruthyunjaya added:

We understand the commitment of his family to come to Stanford from Hawaii to seek the very best of care for their son... seeing their commitment makes our entire team work hard to ensure the best outcomes for Cru -- both for his general health and his vision.  We look forward to watching Cru grow up to become a healthy young man!

Photo courtesy of the Silva family

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