Family says insurance won’t cover prosthetic eye for toddler battling cancer

PALMYRA, LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. -- A two-year-old girl from Lebanon County is battling a rare form of eye cancer.

Her parents tell FOX43, right now, their insurance isn't covering what she really needs.

Ariella Lynn Coyne laughs away at her mom outside their home in Palmyra.

Like most two year olds, she's a little sassy, attached to her favorite stuffed animal, and thinks she's a rock star.

"She's a gift, a bundle of joy," said Terina Sweitzer, Ariella's mom. "She has a spunky personality."

Ariella is a little more reserved than other kids her age.

"Since her medical treatments, she's become more shy because she doesn't know who she can trust. They always come at her nice, but they're the ones pinning her down, poking and prodding her," added Terina.

She's battling a rare form of cancer in both of her eyes called Retinoblastoma.

"We didn't know anything about it. We didn't know what it was going to entail... if she could live through this. We just didn't know," said Brandt Coyne, Ariella's dad.

"Normal cancers are stage 1,2,3. This one is alphabetical. It goes from A to E. She's B in the left, full-blown E in the right," explained Terina.

Mom and dad faced one of the toughest decisions as parents.

"Do we go without an eye and everybody just stares at her? Seeing her not have an eye? Everybody looks at her and wonders, 'What's wrong?' I was such a mess," said Terina tearfully.

Ultimately, they decided to have doctors remove her right eye, hopefully removing the cancer there once and for all.

Now, she needs a prosthetic eye, but the family says Aetna, their insurance company, won't cover it.

They're selling t-shirts and collecting donations in an effort to pay for it out of pocket.

"What will this eye give your daughter?" asked FOX43.

"Normalcy, not having people stare at her," said Brandt and Terina.

Determined to give her just that, Ariella's parents went ahead and scheduled the procedure.

Ariella's parents are anticipating it will cost around $3,600.

They know they might not be able to raise enough for it, and the cancer could one day spread to other parts of her body.

Still, they're choosing to be optimistic.

"There's a lot of bumps in the road. A lot of 'what if's'..." said Terina.

"But we always try to look at the positive things to keep us going, always look at the glass half full," added Brandt.

Here's a link to the family's GoFundMe page or you can see upcoming fundraising events on Ariella's Facebook.

8 comments

  • Robert OMalley

    Just went to the GFM page to donate and they’re now at over $7K of a $3,600.00 goal. Way to go, people.

    • lickerblisters

      So seeing as the goal of $3,600 has been met, all monies after that should be returned to the donors, correct? Let’s not misuse a good thing and spread the wealth on to other needy families.

  • Giggity-MF-goo

    I know when i dealt with cancer, I found out the difference between what i needed and what i wanted. Its sad but tru folks. Yea she may be stared at or laughed at growing up, but a bogus fake eye will get the same poor attention. Im sure she is wonderful the way she is, and if not left to be a “snowflake” as they call it, she can be one of them strong independent women we hear of on TV. Good luck to her!

    • yabbadabbadude

      “but a bogus fake eye will get the same poor attention.” Did you have brain cancer by any chance? You seem to have lost your reasoning skills.

      • Giggity-MF-goo

        Actually I did. Great guess! Besides my memories and physical ability, I didnt loose much, but possably some empathy or pitty for others. I have seen first hand the worst of many. By first hand I reffer to direct interaction, or non interactions. I Learned who friends really were. You simply dont get “add ons” for free unless you have the money or some good connections. Kid does not need the fake eye, her parents want it. They think it will give her an easier life, which it may. I get stared at daily too, and asked questions all the time. These comments are just that, comments, not a good source of information but a great source of entertainment, have a fantasitic, good or fabulous day, you know, whatever you identify as these days.

      • yabbadabbadude

        I have no pity for someone who’s foolish enough to say that a well-made, perfectly matched glass eye is worse than an empty socket. Maybe she could wear a patch instead and get herself a parrot too, right? The poor child isn’t old enough to make the RIGHT DECISION for herself yet, so you say ‘her parents want it, not her’? You’re sick in the head…I know that just by your handle. BTW, idiot, glass eyes today can be seated over orbital implants, so if her eye muscles aren’t damaged it’ll move along with her real eye and no one will even be able to tell.

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