Family says insurance won’t cover prosthetic eye for toddler battling cancer

PALMYRA, LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. -- A two-year-old girl from Lebanon County is battling a rare form of eye cancer.
Her parents say, right now, their insurance isn't covering what she really needs.

Ariella Lynn Coyne laughs away at her mom outside their home in Palmyra.

Like most two year olds, she's a little sassy, attached to her favorite stuffed animal, and thinks she's a rock star.

"She's a gift, a bundle of joy," said Terina Sweitzer, Ariella's mom. "She has a spunky personality."

Ariella is a little more reserved than other kids her age.

"Since her medical treatments, she's become more shy because she doesn't know who she can trust. They always come at her nice, but they're the ones pinning her down, poking and prodding her," added Terina.

She's battling a rare form of cancer in both of her eyes called Retinoblastoma.

"We didn't know anything about it. We didn't know what it was going to entail... if she could live through this. We just didn't know," said Brandt Coyne, Ariella's dad.

"Normal cancers are stage 1,2,3. This one is alphabetical. It goes from A to E. She's B in the left, full blown E in the right," explained Terina.

Mom and dad faced one of the toughest decisions as parents.

"Do we go without an eye and everybody just stares at her? Seeing her not have an eye? Everybody looks at her and wonders, 'what's wrong?' I was such a mess," said Terina tearfully.

Ultimately, they decided to have doctors remove her right eye, hopefully removing the cancer there once and for all.

Now, she needs a prosthetic eye, but the family says Aetna, their insurance company, won't cover it.

They're selling t-shirts and collecting donations in an effort to pay for it out of pocket.

"What will this eye give your daughter?" asked FOX43.

"Normalcy, not having people stare at her," said Brandt and Terina.

Determined to give her just that, Ariella's parents went ahead and scheduled the procedure.

Ariella's parents are anticipating it will cost around $3,600.

They know they might not be able to raise enough for it, and the cancer could one day spread to other parts of her body.

Still, they're choosing to be optimistic.

"There's a lot of bumps in the road. A lot of 'what if's'..." said Terina.

"But we always try to look at the positive things to keep us going, always look at the glass half full," added Brandt.

Here's a link to the family's GoFundMe page or you can see upcoming fundraising events on Ariella's Facebook.

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