Early in the month of December 2011, David Farmer, a 10th quarter student on Palmer’s Florida Campus, noticed a white reflection in the eye of his daughter, Callie. Later that same month, Callie was diagnosed with unilateral retinoblastoma in her right eye.
On April 27, about 400 students, faculty and staff packed the Convocation Hall for the 2nd Annual Mr. Palmer fundraiser. The event, organized by the Palmer Student Alumni Foundation (PSAF), is a pageant-style contest where one male from each class competes against the rest to determine who is crowned Mr. Palmer 2013. The contestants are judged by a panel, comprised of faculty, in three categories: talent, athletic and formal dress. As with last year’s Mr. Palmer event, all proceeds are donated to the Callie Kicks Cancer Foundation.
The really good news is that during last October, one day before her fourth birthday, Callie kicked her cancer to the moon! After nine rounds of monthly intra-arterial chemotherapy, Callie's oncology team agreed that changing treatment courses was the best option. Given a few alternate options, including radiation therapy and enucleation, the very tough decision to remove Callie's eye was made.
“Staying open with Callie and explaining to her what her life might be like with just one eye seemed to truly prepare her for the upcoming change,” said Nancy Farmer, Callie’s mom.
Callie woke up early on Oct. 11, ready to celebrate her birthday! There was so much to celebrate in that day and the weeks ahead, as test results came back with positive signs from pathology, and the knowledge that the tumor had been encapsulated entirely by her eye. The week before Thanksgiving, Callie got her first prosthesis.
Callie will be monitored closely for the duration of her life, as secondary cancers are possible. She continues to make routine bi-monthly trips to Miami for check-ups with her oncologist and evaluations under anesthesia to monitor her other eye. Callie's little sister, Natalie, is also on a regular monitoring schedule due to the possibility of genetic inheritance with retinoblastoma.
Every day Callie amazes the people around her. She recently started going to school and has bloomed beautifully. She is very intelligent and loves the opportunity to tell people about her prosthetic eye.
“We all want to express our sincere thanks to our friends, all the students and everyone on campus. The caring and support has been great!" said David Farmer. "Nancy and I really appreciate everything that PSAF continues to do for us. The number of people that showed up and all the support we’ve received is incredible.”
More than $6,000 was raised in the one evening with more than 450 people participating, including students, faculty and staff, and others. They are still accepting donations.
Photo one: Nancy and David Farmer, parents of Callie (backs to camera), watch Callie on stage with the evening’s emcee, Dr. Tiffany Kelly, Florida Campus graduate.
Photo two: The Mr. Palmer contestants.