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How a Photo Helped One Mom Diagnose Her Son's Cancer

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Julie Fitzgerald worried about the spots on her 2-year-old’s eye, but she only took him to the doctor when a simple test confirmed her worst fears about retinoblastoma, a quick-moving form of cancer that is most often found in the eyes of young children.

Fitzgerald had read an article on Facebook saying that if your child’s eye glows white in photographs, it’s possible he or she could have a certain form of eye cancer. So she snapped a flash photo of her son Avery and sure enough, his eye looked unusual.

When Fitzgerald took her son to the doctor, she learned she was right to be concerned: He had tumors covering 75 percent of his eye. However, doctors were able to remove her son’s eye before the cancer spread. In an ABC News story on the life-saving snapshot, Dr. Richard Besser said the Fitzgeralds narrowly avoided a tragedy.

“You need to see your doctor right away,” he said. “It may be retinoblastoma. But if you miss that sign, it is usually fatal.”

Harvard’s Journal of Ophthalmology estimates it occurs in 1 out of every 15,000 children.