Family Spots Miracle Baby’s Rare Eye Cancer In Photos

A 7-month-old baby in the U.K. has been diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer that was first spotted in family photographs.

Parents of Newcastle baby girl Frankie-Leigh Hendry were told earlier this month that their infant has retinoblastoma, a rare cancer, which is also the most common type of eye cancer in children. The condition is often detected in infancy when a parent notices something abnormal about a child’s eye in a photograph taken with flash. In Frankie’s case, a family member pointed out the oddity to the baby’s mother, Megan Athey, in the pictures she took. A web search later hinted it could be a cancer, later diagnosed as retinoblastoma. A few hundred children in the United States are diagnosed with this form of cancer every year.

“When the lights were out and the TV was on the light would hit her eyes and they would glow,” the child’s mother told the Newscastle Chronicle. “Then my cousin came to visit us and she was taking pictures and Frankie’s eyes glowed in every single picture. She looked on the internet and realised it could be retinoblastoma, eye cancer.”

According to the American Cancer Society, retinoblastoma is often restricted to one eye and curable when the disease has not spread out of the eyes.

“About 3 out of 4 children with retinoblastoma have a tumor in only one eye. In about 1 case in 4, both eyes are affected. Retinoblastoma occurs about equally in boys and girls and in different races and ethnicity. It also occurs equally in the right or left eye. Overall, more than 9 out of 10 children with retinoblastoma are cured, but the outlook is not nearly as good if the cancer has spread outside of the eye.”

Athey says Frankie’s eye cancer will need surgery and chemotherapy, which begins Monday. She is concerned that the cancer could spread to the brain, but is hopeful her child will beat the odds given that the baby fought them at birth, according to a Facebook page that describes Frankie’s journey thus far.

“On the 30th September 2016 at the RVI Newcastle Upon Tyne Frankie-Leigh Hendry entered the world, sleeping. After 8 long minutes the doctors got a pulse. She was moved into special care baby unit and put on a ventilator and all the machines were keeping her alive. 5 days later her parents were told it was for the best that they turned Frankies life support off and let her go. They refused to give up. And, so did Frankie!”

The child then began breathing on her own and was soon discharged from hospital though she has been receiving regular checks. According to Mirror, the infant has multiple tumors in both eyes, including a large one.

“Frankie has been to Birmingham children’s hospital and they have said she has 7 tumors behind her eye. Her tumors have also been graded. A-E, and E being the worst. She has a grade B tumor and the rest are grade D.”

ACS states the known risk factors for the eye cancer are few and include age and hereditary; retinoblastoma is rare in adults, often diagnosed in children under three, and a third of these eye cancer cases are attributed to gene mutation.

“But of these cases, only about 1 in 4 is inherited from one of the child’s parents. In the rest, the gene mutation is not inherited, but occurs during early development in the womb. Children born with a mutation in the RB1 gene usually develop retinoblastoma in both eyes. Regardless of whether the mutated RB1 gene was inherited from a parent or not, because these children have the mutated gene in all of their cells, they have a 1 in 2 chance of eventually passing it on to their children.”

A fundraiser page has been set up to seek assistance for Frankie’s treatment.

[Featured Image by moodboard/Thinkstock]