Mum spots baby son's rare eye cancer after seeing strange white glow in photo

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

As Ryder grew and became more active as a baby, Andrea found herself taking more pictures of her playful boy and his daily antics.

At around three months old, she noticed a strange white glow in Ryder’s left eye captured in the images.

She initially thought it was a fault with her phone’s camera and asked her husband Joey to get her a better one.

Yet even after the new purchase, the glow remained in photos and became more prominent.

And so, Andrea decided to mention it to their family doctor.

‘He was awake more, and he was more active, I was always taking pictures,’ Andrea recalled. ‘That’s when I noticed a white glow, and I didn’t think much of it.

‘I figured it was just because my camera phone wasn’t that great.

‘However, it was always there. So, I asked my husband to get me a real camera. He bought me a Nikon and gave it to me as an early Christmas present.

‘I opened it and took pictures right away, but to my surprise, that glow was even worse.’

In January 2016, Ryder was referred to two specialists, and doctors delivered devastating news to Andrea and the family. They said the glow was a sign of a tumour.

Andrea was immediately taken over with emotion and rang her husband to deliver the horrific news. She said: ‘As my eyes filled with tears, I asked if it was cancer. 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.’

Next, Ryder was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for a brain scan and a further study of his condition. The doctor’s suspicions were confirmed. He had retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer found in young children.

‘Together, we met with the next doctor, and she told us it was retinoblastoma,’ Andrea explained. ‘I was so confused. 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 found early, retinoblastoma can be treated successfully. In Ryder’s case, the cancer had not spread, but as he has Down’s syndrome, chemotherapy would put him at a high risk of developing leukaemia.

After much searching, Andrea found a doctor in New York who could 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.’

Despite developing side effects such as a swollen eye and losing eyelashes, the procedure was a success.

Ryder has been cancer-free for five years but has regular doctor check-ups as the disease can recur.

Andrea said: ‘Retinoblastoma is very spontaneous, so lots of follow-ups are needed. Ryder has been checked almost 40 times since 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 decided to share her story as a warning to other parents to be aware of lesser-known signs.

‘Pay attention to your photos and your friends’ photos,’ she warned.

‘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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