Photo Helps Mom Discover Cancer in 2-Year-Old Son's Eye

Retinoblastoma is usually diagnosed before a child reaches the age of 3

A Rockford, Illinois, mother's cellphone turned out to be a life-saving device when it helped her confirm what she'd feared: her son had cancer. 

Julie Fitzgerald began noticing an usual twinkle in the back of her 2-year-old son's eye a couple of months ago. A search online turned up a story about a woman who found cancer in relatives after she saw a white eye instead of the normal red eye in family photos.

"I took a picture, and I did not want to take the picture because I had this dreaded feeling in the pit of my stomach. I took the picture, and "boom," his whole pupil was just white, and that's when I knew," Julie told NBC station WREX.

A doctor's visit after that photo confirmed that little Avery Fitzgerald had retinoblastoma, which the Mayo Clinic indicates is the most common form of cancer affecting the eye in children. In Avery's case, 75 percent of his left eye had tumors and had to be removed.

Doctors said the cancer could have spread to the boy's brain and blood had the family delayed.

The boy will eventually get a prosthetic eye, and the family is awaiting the results of testing to see if he has a genetic marker that could indicate the risk for more cancer.

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