Fisher hopes daughter's treatments over

Doctors will monitor eyes until she's 44 months old

Published: Tuesday, July 24 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

NBA veteran guard and former Jazz player Derek Fisher is hoping his infant daughter won't need more treatments.

In an interview with Today show's Matt Lauer, Fisher said the little girl has undergone surgery and three rounds of chemotherapy for retinoblastoma, a rare and potentially deadly cancer of the eye. Three rounds, he said, was identified as the "best number at her age to stick with for now."

In the next few days, Fisher said, they'll find out how effective the treatments have been, before starting to "transition" to Los Angeles, where he's rejoined the Lakers and where the 1-year-old will continue to be examined until she's 44 months old. Fisher was told that age marks the end of the most dangerous period for the cancer.

Tatum's twin, Drew, is also routinely checked for the eye condition but has shown no sign of it.

During the six-minute television interview, Fisher conceded that the decision to walk away from his $20 million contract with the Jazz was probably easier because he's an established player. "I think that early in your career when you're trying to establish yourself, when you're trying to set up financial security for you and your family, it's more difficult," he said.

But the "sacrifices you make for your family" are part of learning "how to be a husband, how to be a father," he said. "You just work it out. I am committed to providing for my family the best way I can, no matter what it takes."

He said he's thankful to the Jazz and the NBA for understanding his decision to seek a spot on a team closer to the treatment he and wife Candace have chosen for Tatum. When they first learned she had the tumor in her retina, they "went back and forth" on whether to make it public, because he's a private man, he told Lauer.

He revealed her disease because that was "something put in my heart by the man upstairs. Because, hopefully what it's done is allow children to have their lives saved, to have their eyes saved."

His daughter, he added, "is changing the world for the better."

Retinoblastoma strikes as many as 300 young children in the United States each year. A congenital condition, it can lead to blindness and, if it is untreated and moves into the brain, death. Doctors at Moran Eye Center and Primary Children's Medical Center say they see a handful of children in the Intermountain West diagnosed with the cancer each year. Often, the recommended treatment is removal of the eye.

The Fishers chose a treatment that targets chemotherapy directly into the tumor, he told reporters earlier.


E-mail: lois@desnews.com

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