A mum detected her toddler’s eye cancer after spotting a bizarre white spot on his photograph.
Emily Smith, from West Sussex in the UK, took a close-up photo of her son, Jaxson, and noticed a strange grey area behind one of his pupils.
“The flash on my camera automatically came on as Jaxson was in the dark,” Emily, a mental healthcare worker, said.
“He looked so cute but when I looked back at the picture, I noticed the strange clouding behind one of his pupils.
“It was after this that I Googled it and looked back at previous photos where we also noticed the white reflex.”
Following the discovery, the 23-year-old mum rushed to take Jaxson, then 11-months-old, to the doctors, where he was then referred onto an eye specialist.
Jaxson was later diagnosed with retinoblastoma – a rare form of eye cancer – something which may not have been discovered if his mum hadn’t taken that photograph.
He was admitted to surgery, where surgeons used a special magnification scope to look into the back of his eye for the tumour.
After this, they gave it a grade of severity to see if it had grown or spread close to the back of the eye, where it could then spread into the optic nerve and other areas of the body.
“Luckily, following his surgery, Jaxson was pleasantly unaware of what was going on and continued to be our happy, beautiful baby boy.” she said.
“We had Christmas knowing what was going on inside our little boy’s eye and trying to be as positive as possible knowing that this tumour was actively growing. It was an incredibly difficult time.”
But following an MRI scan, doctors confirmed that Jaxson’s cancer wasn’t spreading and he went on to receive six rounds of systemic chemotherapy at Southhampton General hospital.
In July 2017, Emily and her husband, Owen, were given the good news that Jaxson’s tumour had become stable, meaning he required no more treatment, but six months later, they were given the sad news he had relapsed.
“We were heartbroken to find out it was beginning to grow again, despite Jaxson reacting so well to his previous treatment,” Emily said.
“They had already done laser surgery on the tumour as best they could whilst Jaxson was asleep, then, when they found the laser treatment wasn’t working, they gave him infra-arterial chemotherapy every two weeks until Jaxson had had six sessions of laser under general anaesthetic.”
After a difficult couple of years, Emily and Owen finally received the news they wanted – last year they were told Jaxson was stable once again.
Ten months on, Jaxson is still stable and living life to the fullest.
“We were told by Jaxson’s school that he is on track for everything development-wise with no concerns,” Emily said.
“I think we have always been aware that he may struggle due to being premature and also an oncology patient but we could not be more proud of our gorgeous little boy.
“Even if he was behind we would still be just as proud, but to know despite it all he is still so kind and clever is extraordinary.”
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