McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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February 13, 2011

McAlester toddler, blinded by cancer, gets ‘eye’

McALESTER — Hunter Kelley, McAlester’s 2-year-old hero, was fitted for his prosthetic eye at the end of January. Then, just days after getting his left eye prosthesis, Hunter had to have his right eye surgically removed due to the growth of new tumors, further retina detachment and excessive bleeding.

Thankfully, Hunter will not have to endure further chemotherapy. The continued tumor growth in his right eye did not reach high risk areas prior to the eye being surgically removed on Jan. 31. Although he will be closely monitored for the days, months and years to come, doctors say that Hunter is currently cancer-free.

On April 30, 2010, Hunter was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma, a rapidly developing cancer which develops in the cells of retina — the light detecting tissue of the eyes. Once diagnosed, Hunter endured four rounds of chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation treatment. Unfortunately, none of these treatments helped in removing the cancerous tumors from Hunter’s eyes. Hunter had his left eye surgically removed on Dec. 10 and was fitted for his left eye prosthesis toward the end of January at Thomas Ocular in Germantown, Tenn. Then, on Jan. 31, Hunter had his right eye surgically removed.

Since then, the community has continued to support Hunter. McAlester Radio personality Kevin Dean completed his “Human Popsicle” charity drive to raise funds for St. Jude’s Hospital and Hunter’s Army, a benefit set up for Hunter Kelley.

Dean’s goal had been to stay on the rooftop until he collected $10,000. As of Feb. 4, Dean raised more than his goal and he is still accepting donations. “They can drop donations off at the radio station or mail them to the Human Popsicle P.O. Box 1068 McAlester, OK 74502,” Dean said. “A $20 donation will get you a Human Popsicle T-shirt.”

Kimberly has started a business, “Hunter’s Army Benefit Valentine’s Day Cookie Grams and Candy Bouquets.” Kimberly says the business has been going great, especially considering the recent wintry weather. “I am now thinking of turning it into a business called ‘Cookies from the Heart’ and making these ‘specialty’ cookies for holidays and events,” she explained. “I did decide to also sell them by the dozen and it has already drew in 18 dozen ... so this may be where my life takes me as far as my work goes.”

Anyone interested in placing an order with Kimberly can call her at 798-4945. Kimberly has also put order forms online that can be downloaded off a special website set up for Hunter at Donations can also be given by visiting this website.

For more on this story, see Sunday’s print edition of the McAlester News-Capital. For subscription information call 423-1700.

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