Julie Fitzgerald, of Rockford, Illinois, had been concerned about odd spots she saw on her two-year-old son’s eye. At first she ignored them. But she noticed a couple of months ago that whenever she would look at Avery’s eyes under direct light, she’d see something odd in the back of his left eye. Her husband, Patrick, told her that it was probably nothing, according to Fox News.
Then a viral story on Facebook made her take photos of her son Avery’s eye. The story she read stated that a white glow that appears in an individual’s eye could be a sign of cancer, according to Good Morning America.
So she snapped photos of Avery’s eye with her cell phone. And there was the white glow that she dreaded. Fitzgerald indicated the following, according to ABC News.
“I just had this gut feeling in my stomach that something was wrong with his eye.”
Doctors diagnosed Avery with retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that usually develops in early childhood before the age of five, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The disease develops in the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color. According to the NIH, approximately 250 to 350 children per year are diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the United States.
The cancerous tumors covered 75 percent of Avery’s eye, which had to be removed entirely. Luckily, doctors indicated that they caught the cancer just in time and that it had not spread. Fitzgerald said the following, according to ABC News.
“If we did not get this eye out, the cancer would spread to his blood and to his brain. Our lives went from normal to cancer to a cancer survivor in three weeks. It turned out to be our worst nightmare but it saved our son’s life.”
Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor, stated the following.
“It is a medical emergency. You need to see your doctor right away. It may be retinoblastoma. But if you miss that sign, it is usually fatal.”
Last month, another mother, Joanna Murphy, also caught the rare cancer after noticing a white glow in her daughter’s eye. Also, a Facebook friend of Tara Taylor’s noticed a glow in her daughter’s eye, which led to the diagnosis of another rare eye disease.
Avery will get a prosthetic eye and doctors are also testing him to see whether he has a genetic marker that could leave him at risk for developing more cancer. Patrick Fitzgerald had the following advice, according to Fox News.
“Trust your gut. Trust a momma’s gut… and don’t wait. Don’t wait to see if it improves.”
Sometimes a medical problem takes a little more investigation to discover the root cause of the illness. Yamini Karanam, 26, knew something was wrong with her, but didn’t know what. She had been a brilliant Ph.D. student who started having difficulty understanding simple articles. And when friends and colleagues spoke to her, the sentences would get confused in her mind. She had moved from Hyderabad, India, to Indianapolis to study computer science. Then, after going on vacation, instead of feeling refreshed, she was even more exhausted and slept for two weeks straight. And she had painful headaches. A doctor made an incision in the back of Yamini’s skull and used an endoscope to discover what was causing her to suffer and found it was a very rare type of benign tumor: a ‘teratoma,’ complete with bone, hair, and teeth inside her brain, according to an article in the Inquisitr.
[Photo Courtesy Fitzgerald Family]