VENICE, Fla. — A 5-year-old who battled and beat an aggressive form of eye cancer is now raising money and awareness for other pediatric cancer patients through baking.
Kinsley was only four when her parents first noticed redness around her right eye in December 2018. She wasn't complaining of pain, but her parents took her to the doctor for what they suspected was pink eye.
"Took her to our pediatrician and they agreed, they just thought it was pink eye," said Kim Peacock, Kinsley's mother.
But, after a week of treatment the redness wasn't clearing up. Her parents sought a second opinion from an eye doctor who told them she had a detached retina. The doctor said it could be from trauma or something worse, like a tumor.
After that, they took Kinsley to a pediatric ophthalmologist who confirmed it was a detached retina, but the doctor didn't see signs of a tumor.
"We were relieved when he stated 'I’m 99% sure that there is not a tumor and the only reason I say 99% is because I never tell anyone 100%,'" the family says on Kinsley's website.
However, a few days after taking Kinsley to Miami to meet with a top pediatric retina specialist their worst fear was realized.
"It was probably the worst night of our life. You don't sleep," said Peacock.
The specialist found an advanced stage tumor in Kinsley's right eye and she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma - an extremely rare and aggressive eye cancer.
Kinsley went through six rounds of chemotherapy, the first just days before Christmas. Eventually, doctors concluded they had to remove her right eye.
"You probably can't tell, but her right eye is a prosthetic," said her mother.
The 5-year-old could not leave the house because her immune system was compromised during chemotherapy.
To pass the time, she started baking cookies.
"We started driving around the neighborhood, putting them in mailboxes with a little note from her, and most people in the community knew what she was going through," said Peacock.
Kinsley asked her father to build her a cookie cart.
"She just loved passing them out. It was genuinely what she looked forward to and every day she would make cookies," said Peacock.
Kinsley and her parents started "Kinsley's Cookie Cart," a non-profit to raise money to help children with cancer.
"It was just so humbling and very rewarding as a parent to hear your child want to give back," said Peacock.
In the past month, the non-profit has raised more than $25,000 for various organizations that help children with cancer.
Kinsley trades cookies for a donation.
"If you were to ask her how much a cookie is...it is whatever your heart desires, whatever you feel like contributing to her cause," said her mother.
Two months ago, Kinsley finished chemotherapy and now, she's cancer-free.
"This girl is so strong. Children are resilient. This is girl is so strong and we are so proud of her," said her mother.
Kinsley recently met Dick Vitale, a sportscaster, and became part of his All-Star team of cancer survivors.
"Vitale helped raise millions for pediatric cancer," said Peacock.
Kinsley said she loves sugar cookies and sprinkles. She will continue baking for the children still fighting.
"I raise money for other kids in the hospital," said Kinsley.