“Dear God, I'm sorry I was angry when you first took away my eyesight. Now that I am older, I am grateful for the other things in life you have given me. Yours kindly, Andrea.”
These are the words of fourteen-year-old Andrea Padayachee.
About five years ago, she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive and highly malignant form of cancer. Rhabdomyosarcoma, which occurs when skeletal muscle cells have failed to fully differentiate, is considered to be a childhood disease as most cases occur in people under the age of 18.
The cancer is commonly found in the head, face, and neck of the patient and can lead to severe headaches, ear discharge, sinusitis and pain in the face.
“It was devastating. No parent wants to hear the words 'your child has cancer',” said her mother Geraldine.
A month after being diagnosed, Andrea lost her eyesight and parents Geraldine and Kuben Padayachee faced a major obstacle. Amidst the treatment and back-and-forth trips to the hospital, they felt her education was still of paramount importance. So they hired an in-house braille tutor.
Five years later, after countless hours in treatment and chemo, Andrea is living a normal life playing with friends, eating her favorite food and excelling at school in every subject.
When asked what she would say to another child who just lost their eyesight, she said, “I would tell them don’t be scared or angry, there’s other children who can’t see and you will get used to it.”