Archer county 1-year-old fighting rare eye cancer, radio station holding benefit for his prosthetic eye

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

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

At just one year old, Riplee Veitenheimer proves just how tough he really is.

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

It was by accident that Riplee’s parents, Anya and Cody Veitenheimer, noticed that something wasn’t right in his eye.

“It was like an act of God that I found it,” said Anya. “We happened to put eye drops in his eye, and I found I could see through his pupil, and I now know what I saw was his tumor.”

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

“The questions and the looks are really tough, and I’m ready for him to come back to normal,” Anya said.

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

“Before they got his eye on him, he was able to teach six emerging doctors how to find this cancer,” Anya said. “Every time Riplee has a blood draw, his blood is sent out and tested to hopefully find a cure for retinoblastoma.”

99.9 KLUR Radio DJ Scotty Preston knows the ‘c-word’ all too well. He has had his many bouts with cancer.

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

The radio station is hosting a benefit concert on Texas Nite Life with a live and silent auction.

“This is a win-win situation,” Preston said. “You get some really nice things to buy and help this family with their expenses too.”

For Anya, this means the world.

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

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

Her pictures of Riplee’s eye appearing gray and white in photos instead of red go back to June. Gray or white, rather than red, is a clear indication that something is wrong, but this family believes they are fighting this battle for a reason.

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

A little boy who is going to do big things and his grateful family hopes Texomans will be there.

The benefit for Riplee is Sunday, November 7 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Texas Nite Life. There will be a spaghetti dinner, plus the live and silent auction.

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

The retinoblastoma could be genetic, and if it is, Riplee will need chemotherapy. That would also put him at risk for other cancers and require the Veitenheimers’ other children to be tested.

So far, Riplee has had two surgeries. The first was to remove the eye, the second was for a temporary eye that eventually didn’t fit.

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