Tiny detail in photo of baby leads to rare diagnosis

A baby has been diagnosed with eye cancer after his mum spotted a strange white glow in his eyes in photos.

Andrea Temarantz, 42, from Arizona, US, is mum to five-year-old Ryder, who also has Down’s syndrome.

As her son became more active as a baby, Andrea found herself snapping more images of her playful boy and his daily antics.

However, when he was around three months old, she noticed a strange white glow in his left eye, captured in the snaps.

Initially, the mum thought it was her faulty phone camera, so she asked her husband, Joey, to get her a better one.

But the glow remained and became even more prominent in the photos, so she decided to mention it to their family doctor.

Photos of Ryder were showing a strange white glow in his left eye. Source: Jam Press/ Australscope
Photos of Ryder were showing a strange white glow in his left eye. Source: Jam Press/ Australscope

"To my surprise that glow was even worse," Andrea told Jam Press of the new camera.

In January 2016, Ryder was referred to two specialists and doctors delivered devastating news to his mum, as they said the glow appeared to be a tumour.

Andrea was overwhelmed by emotion and rang her husband to deliver the horrific news.

“As my eyes filled with tears I asked if it was cancer," she said.

“The doctor said he would refer me to another specialist on the same day. I called my husband from the parking lot crying.

“I told him I was pretty sure something was really wrong and he needed to meet me at this other specialist.”

Doctor's confirm rare cancer

Ryder was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for a brain scan and a further check-up on his condition, which confirmed doctors' suspicions.

He had retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer found in young children.

“I was so confused," Andrea recalled.

"She went on to explain there is only one type of tumour you would see in an eye, so we knew that's what it was."

If the disease is picked up early, retinoblastoma can often be successfully treated.

Andrea with her two sons Ryder and Joseph. Source: Jam Press/ Australscope
Andrea with her two sons Ryder and Joseph. Source: Jam Press/ Australscope

Fortunately, the cancer had not spread but as Ryder has Down’s syndrome, chemotherapy would put him at a higher risk of developing leukaemia.

So, Andrea managed to find a doctor in New York who was able to deliver a concentrated treatment in the eye called intra-arterial chemotherapy.

"It's a method of delivering concentrated doses of cancer-killing medicine directly to the affected area of the eye," she said.

“They go in through his artery up past his heart and put it right into his eye.”

As a side effect, Ryder’s eye became swollen and he lost his eyelashes from the chemo, but the procedure was otherwise a success.

Mum's warning to other parents

The young boy has now been cancer-free for five years but still goes for annual doctor check-ups to ensure his eyes are clear.

“Retinoblastoma is very spontaneous so lots of follow-ups are needed," Andrea said.

“Ryder has been checked up almost 40 times to make sure he is still cancer-free.

“He just hit the five-year cancer-free mark so from now on he will only need to go under once a year to make sure his eyes are clear."

Andrea has shared her story to warn other parents to look out for anything unusual when taking snaps.

“Pay attention to your photos and your friends' photos.

“Keep the flash on and if you see a white glow have it checked.

“All children should see an eye doctor by six months old as this will help prevent many eye issues.”

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