Josie Rock, a 41-year-old parent of three from Gainesville, discovered that her 3-month-old son, Asher, had a rare form of cancer when after snapping a picture of him. She said the flash accidentally went off exposing an abnormality in her son’s right eye.
“I was just taking pictures of him and the lighting happened to change in our room, the flash caught the reflection and his eye was glowing white,” Rock told FOX News Tuesday.
Roccia, a labor and delivery nurse, recalled learning about retinoblastoma – a type of eye cancer that begins in the back of the eye and is most common in children. Tumors in the eye can be detected in photo flashes as white when the tumor covers what would typically be a red-colored reflection of the retina.
“I knew right then and there that Asher had cancer. It was chilling to say the least. He was just a baby,” Rock ha detto.
She took more photos on a professional camera and shared them with her nurse practitioner colleagues, who told her the glow in Asher’s eye may simply been due to the lighting.
But Rock wanted to be sure, so she took Asher to the pediatrician.
“I remember the color drained from her [the doctor’s] face after she did the proper examination. She turned the lights off and looked at his eyes and said, ‘Something’s not right’,” Rock ha detto.
Asher was diagnosed with grade D retinoblastoma, which is defined by the American Cancer Society as “large or poorly defined tumors with widespread vitreous or subretinal seeding. The retina may have become detached from the back of the eye.” The most severe stage of retinoblastoma is group E.
“There are two kinds, heritable and non-heritable. Those with heritable ones, their parents may have had it so they get checked at birth, whereas if you don’t have a family history, it’s hard to know if you have it,” Dott. Tomas Olson, director of the solid tumor program in the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, detto a FOX.
“At first we gave him [Asher] chemotherapy intravenous and the ophthalmologist used lasers on the spots [on his eye] and there were responses. He finished chemo in 2015. The problem with retinoblastoma is it can pop up in other places. Col tempo, he had a few new ones pop up and they were lasered,” Olson said.
Asher has undergone 54 exams to date and is still being treated.
“I have never known a stronger kid,” Rock ha detto. “He’s so positive – he’s not a complainer – he finds the joy in everything we do.”