Archer County 1-Year-Old Battles Rare Eye Cancer, Radio Station Benefits From His Prosthetic Eye


ARCHER CITY (KFDX/KJTL) — A one-year-old child from Archer City faces a diagnosis and medical procedures no parent should ever have to see their child endure.

He has a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma, and a local radio station is making sure this family doesn’t have to fight it alone.

At just one year old, Riplee Veitenheimer is proving just how strong he really is.

“He’s a fighter, this one’s a fighter,” Riplee’s mother, Anya Veitenheimer, said.

It was by accident that Riplee’s parents, Anya and Cody Veitenheimer, noticed something was wrong with her eye.

“It was like an act of God if I found it,” Anya said. “We were just putting eye drops in his eye, and I noticed I could see through his pupil, and now I know what I was seeing was his tumor.”

Doctors discovered two tumors and Riplee was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Cancer has already taken away one of his eyes.

“The questions and stares are really tough, and I’m ready for him to have a normal back,” Anya said.

Riplee is a fighter and, believe it or not, he is also a teacher.

“Before they gouged out his eye, he was able to teach six promising doctors how to find this cancer,” Anya said. “Every time Riplee has a blood draw, her blood will be sent out and tested to hopefully help find a cure for retinoblastoma.”

99.9 KLUR Radio DJ Scotty Preston knows the “c-word” all too well. He had his many battles with cancer.

“I know every time I have to go down to Dallas to get radiation on my brain, it’s $100 a trip,” Preston said. “And we’re looking to get a prosthetic eye for Riplee, and he’s such a cool kid.”

The radio station is giving a benefit to Texas Nite Life with a live, silent auction.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Preston said. “You get some really cool stuff you can buy and also help this family with their expenses.”

For Anya, that means the world.

“You know you’re loved, but you don’t know how much you are until something like this happens, and we’re loved, and we appreciate everyone,” Anya said.

She said there’s something every parent needs to know that she wishes she’d known sooner: “Take flash pictures because you could save your baby’s life.” If I had found it maybe two weeks later, it might have been in his brain.

Her photos of Riplee’s eye showing gray and white instead of red date back to June. Gray or white, instead of red, is a clear indication of something wrong, but this family thinks they’re fighting this battle for a reason.

“He’s going to do great things,” Anya said. “He’s going to help someone one day, I really believe that.”

A little boy is about to do great things and his grateful family hopes the Texomans will come along and be a part of it.

Benefit for Riplee is Sunday, November 7 from 1-5 p.m. at Texas Nite Life. There will be a spaghetti dinner, as well as the live and silent auction.

Riplee gets her new eye on Friday, November 12. Tests the day before her appointment will help doctors determine if chemotherapy is needed.

The retinoblastoma could be genetic, and if so, Riplee will need chemotherapy. It would also expose him to other cancers and force the Veitenheimers’ other children to be tested.

So far, Riplee has undergone two surgeries. The first was to remove the eye, the second was for a temporary eye which ended up not fitting.


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