An Arizona mom noticed an unusual flash in her baby's eye while looking through his photos that may have saved his life.
Andrea Temarantz had taken countless photos of 4-month-old Ryder, but recently the camera started picking up a "glow" in his left eye, according to the family's post on the website FundRazr. The mom had seen something on Facebook before about how the camera's flash can reveal health problems in babies' eyes that are normal unseen to the naked eye.
When she took Ryder to his 4-month check-up, his doctor diagnosed him with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, just 24 hours later.
The family had to decide if they wanted to treat it by removing the eye or trying chemotherapy.
Because Ryder was born with Down snydrome, chemotherapy was a risky option because he is at a higher risk of developing leukemia. Also, the aggressive cancer has a chance of attacking both eyes in the future, so preserving some sight was very important to the family.
Ryder's doctors at Phoenix Children's Hospital alerted Ryder's parents about oncologists in New York City specialize in a unique chemotherapy method for the exact kind of tumor in Ryder's eye. It made sense for the family to travel to New York City, where Ryder underwent his first treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center.
Dr. David Abramson, the chief of MSK's ophthalmic oncology service, explained the method to the New York Daily News. Using a 6-foot-long catheter, they administer "less than a teaspoon of chemotherapy" that is "as thin as angel hair pasta," through the baby's groin. Over 1,600 children have undergone the procedure, which cures 99 percent of patients.
"Almost all of these children were scheduled to have those eyes removed somewhere," Abramson said. "We don't have one child who has died from this cancer."
Thank goodness Ryder's mom recognized the "glow" and was pointed to the right treatment!