What Is Retinoblastoma?

by Murali Chintagumpala, M.D. and Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, M.D.
May 11, 2020

Dr. Chintagumpala’s specific interests include the management of children with all brain tumors, retinoblastoma, bone tumors and kidney tumors. He serves as chair of the Retinoblastoma Sub-Committee for the Children’s Oncology Group and is a leader in conducting clinical trials involving children with brain tumors and Retinoblastoma.

Dr. Rodríguez-Galindo is a member of the St. Baldrick’s Scientific Advisory Committee. His research focuses on retinoblastoma, bone sarcomas, histiocytic disorders and rare childhood cancers.

what is retinoblastoma

What is Retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the eye that only occurs in children and typically in very young children. Two-thirds of retinoblastoma patients are diagnosed before they’re 2 years old and more than 90% are diagnosed before turning 5.

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Cancer Free, But Never Free From Cancer

by Katie Vescelus
September 8, 2014

2013 Ambassador Matthias was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, when he was just 3 months old. The treatment left him permanently blind, but five years later, he’s cancer free and starting kindergarten. His mom, Katie, shares this update.

Matthias and Magnus starting school

Matthias (left) and his older brother, Magnus, on the first day of school this year.

On July 13, 2009, I held our son, Matthias, as he recovered from surgery to remove his right eye. His left eye had been removed two weeks before.

This surgery allowed him to be cancer free for the first time in his life, but it left him permanently and irreversibly blind.

I lifted him from the recovery room bed as he slept, and the nurses helped me navigate the tangled web of tubes so we could settle into a rocking chair. I rocked and sang softly to him as he awoke for the first time to a new world, one in which he was healthy but completely blind.

On August 4, 2014, just five short years later, I hugged Matthias and held his hand as he boarded the bus for kindergarten. I kissed him goodbye and again guided him into a new world. It was almost as terrifying as the day he lost his vision.

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Seeing Christmas in a New Light

by Katie Vescelus
December 5, 2013

After childhood cancer took Matthias’ sight, Christmas changed forever.

Cancer changed us in many ways; sometimes I don’t even recognize our lives anymore. Many of these changes aren’t bad — we have a deeper respect for life, an appreciation of health, and a conscious enjoyment of every moment with loved ones.

Some of the changes were difficult, and we’ve accepted them. Even the way we celebrate holidays has changed.

I’ve always enjoyed Christmas, and having children makes this time of year even more magical. In 2008, we were excited to celebrate Matthias’ first Christmas, along with Magnus, who was 2 at the time, and just starting to participate in all of the excitement of the season.

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A Moment of Peace and Gratitude With Song

by Katie Vescelus
November 21, 2013


Matthias was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer of the eye, when he was an infant.

Matthias was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 3 months old, so we had all of the normal challenges of a baby compounded by him being sick.

Matthias never took a pacifier. He had a wicked gag reflex, so we had to find other ways to soothe him. Music became his pacifier, and we relied on it heavily.

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The Grandparents

by Douglas Cochrane
September 8, 2013


St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Matthias with his Grandfather

Being a grandparent is one of the greatest joys of my life. I love hearing from our children as they share the joys, trials and even the challenges and difficulties of raising their own children.

My wife and I are blessed with 14 beautiful, uniquely wonderful grandchildren. We all like to think that we don’t have favorites, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my buddy Matthias has a very special place in my heart.

My journey with childhood cancer began with a telephone call almost 5 years ago. The call is indelibly seared into my memories as one of the most distressing moments of my life.

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$4 Million Raised for Childhood Cancer Research

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 20, 2013

Matthias, St. Baldrick’s 2013 Ambassador, heard something big was coming and he is now excited to help us announce that the St. Baldrick’s community has raised more than $4 million for childhood cancer research!

His parents, Katie and Craig, send their thanks for supporting kids like their son and giving them hope for a healthy future.

“Kids should be out living their lives, not fighting for them. St. Baldrick’s has such dedicated volunteers, and it is so amazing that they have raised so much money already. Being a family fighting cancer is very isolating, and St. Baldrick’s donors and volunteers send a collective message that these families are not alone and people care.”

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Kids with Cancer

Meet Matthias

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
January 10, 2013

Diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes at 3 ½ months old, Matthias had six months of chemotherapy, monthly laser and cryo-therapies, and Exams Under Anesthesia. Near the end of treatment, his main tumors started growing again and there were more seed tumors – too many to count. Matthias’s eyes were removed before his first birthday.


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