SALT LAKE CITY - Derek Fisher was looking forward to finally getting some rest on the Utah Jazz's flight to California.
Fisher was drained after practice Thursday, having spent the previous day in a New York hospital for his 10-month-old daughter's cancer treatment before flying to Utah for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Golden State Warriors.
It all went well. Fisher made it in time to play and the Jazz won 127-117 in overtime. More importantly, little Tatum was recovering and may be able to keep her left eye.
"Physically, I'm OK. But mentally and emotionally I'm just exhausted," Fisher said.
Tatum was diagnosed last week with retinoblastoma, a cancerous tumor in her left eye. Fisher was excused from the team to deal with his daughter's illness, and the family flew to New York on Monday to see a specialist.
Fisher said he and his wife, Candace, had about 12 hours to decide how to treat the tumor. Doctors could remove the eye and try to get all the cancer, or treat it with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, and hope she can keep her eye.
"The cancer could spread to the optic nerve, to the brain and throughout the rest of her body pretty fast," Fisher said. "That was our first concern - trying to save her life."
Tatum's twin, Drew, has no signs of the condition, which is one reason why Candace Fisher thought the light was reflecting oddly from Tatum's left eye. The Fishers took her to a few doctors before a pediatrician at the University of Utah recognized the problem.
Only 350 cases are diagnosed each year in North America, said Dr. A. Linn Murphree, director of the retinoblastoma program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He is not involved in the Fisher case.
In most cases, patients lose the eye rather than undergo chemo- therapy, but there are exceptions, Murphree said.
"That's a decision that doctors and parents make," he said. "The good news is 95 to 98 percent of children will grow up to live a long life."
Fisher, meanwhile, is back with the Jazz. He scored all five of his points in overtime after making a dramatic entrance in the third quarter at EnergySolutions Arena.
When the season ends, the Fishers expect to talk more about retinoblastoma.
"My wife and I definitely plan to try and help as many people as we can. I don't know how we'll be able to at this point," he said. "If there's a treatment out there, they should be able to get it. Some people can't afford to get it. Some people don't have the resources."
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