A quest in sight for 11-year-old girl – Springs Advertiser


Eleven-year-old Katherine Botha from Selection Park has been fighting the race of recovery after she was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia (underdeveloped optic nerve) at the age of four in 2017.
Upon doing further research on the condition, reality struck Katherine’s parents when they realised their daughter could lose her eyesight over time and go blind.
“That is when the realisation of it all hit us,” said JB Botha, Katherine’s mother.
“As her parents, we realised that we needed to do whatever we could to help our daughter to adjust and cope.
“Moreover, as a mom, it devastated me knowing that one day my child would lose her eyesight and I needed to prepare myself for it, which was not the easiest thing to do.”
Although Katherine’s family had prepared themselves, the reality of her losing her eyesight came about in the last few months of 2022 when her vision worsened.
“She would occasionally lose her sight completely for an extended time,” said Botha.
“An MRI scan was done last year in October, which showed that Katherine had a tumour on the brain called a craniopharyngioma.
“In December, we took her to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital for her to see an oncologist.
“That’s when we received the most devastating news that the tumour histology came back as a schwannoma and not a craniopharyngioma.”
Schwannoma is a rare type of tumour that forms in the nervous system.
“This tumour is sitting under the optic nerve that is pressing the nerve up and pushing down on the pituitary gland,” said Botha.
“It also causes the blockage of the draining pipes that help circulate the cerebrospinal fluid, causing this to accumulate on the brain.”
Although Katherine has had an operation to remove the bulk of the tumour to relieve pressure on the pituitary gland, optic nerve, and glymphatic system, which drains the cerebrospinal fluid of the brain, she will be seeing a surgeon on January 17 for further medical intervention.
While the aftermath has been challenging to prevent total vision loss, the first course of treatment that all the doctors have agreed on is radiation, which is expected to start this month.
In hopes of raising funds for Katherine’s operation, the Botha family has set up a BackaBuddy account and raffles, for which they plead with the community to support.
“We do not receive any government funding and must pay for all testing, blood work, scans, radiation and chemotherapy,” Botha explained.
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“Each month I run a different type of raffle, that way the community is also getting something in return.
“I’ve also started a social media page called The Quest is in Sight, where I post updates about Katherine’s situation.”
All funds raised will go towards testing, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as needed for Katherine’s progress, as well as home care and transportation.
To get in touch with the Botha family, contact JB on 081 475 9853.

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