Pediatric Pals

Recently, while young Mackenzie Fredeen was waiting for treatment, she met another toddler, Akira Pierre, going through a very similar experience.

We first met Mackenzie last year, when her parents generously requested charitable gifts to That Man May See for vision research at University of California, San Francisco in lieu of first birthday presents for their daughter. Mackenzie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (eye cancer) at just three-and-a-half-months old.

Akira (left) and Mackenzie (right): pals and patients.

Fortunately, she found compassionate care at UCSF through specialist Armin Afshar, MD, MBA and his colleague, nurse Leanne Parsons, MS. Pediatric ophthalmology at UCSF strives to make small patients, courageously facing monumental challenges, feel like family while they are in treatment. “The combination of leading-edge expertise and humanitarian patient care for these child warriors is what makes Dr. Afshar’s team so successful. We are forever grateful,” according to Jordanna Howard, Mackenzie’s mother.

As only children can, Mackenzie and Akira made an instant connection. At the time, Akira was bravely undergoing treatment in ocular oncology – and the two girls immediately bonded, holding hands and playing together. Mackenzie and Akira have both since been deemed cancer-free. Their parents are grateful to Dr. Afshar for his unmatched care. Mackenzie and Akira found joy and hope in one another, and inspire all of us here at That Man May See.