Mum’s horror after camera flash on young son hides deadly secret behind his eyes
A young mum has revealed how photos of her happy-go-lucky son ‘hide a deadly secret’ – as the white ‘glow’ in his eye that she mistook for the camera’s flash turned out to be cancer.
Chloe Ross said that after her son Cayson-Jay Palethorpe turned two she noticed his left eye appeared cloudy and had a squint, which she just put this down to a ‘lazy eye’.
But when it became noticeably worse the 22-year-old googled his symptoms and came across ‘retinoblastoma’, a rare type of eye cancer that commonly affects young children, so sought medical help.
The mum-of-two said that her son eventually received a ‘heart-sinking’ stage E retinoblastoma diagnosis back in June as an ‘extra large’ tumour was detected – rendering his eye ‘unsaveable’.
Little Cayson had his eye removed before having a prosthetic fitted and the full-time-mum was ‘over the moon’ to receive the good news last week [12 August] that he won’t need any further treatment.
The incoming social science and health student later returned to old photos snd clips of Cayson and noticed a silver glow in his iris from when he was as young as eight months old, which she know understands to be a tell-tell sign of the cancer.
After a rollercoaster ordeal, Chloe is now keen to raise awareness of retinoblastoma’s symptoms and urges parents who notice any changes in their children’s eyes to get them checked out.
Chloe, from Birmingham, said: “Those pictures hid a secret that could be deadly if it wasn’t caught in time.
“When I was looking online they said that they have a glow in their eye when you take pictures with flash and I looked back at quite a few pictures because I was thinking ‘I’m sure he had that glow in his eye’.
“I’ve gone back and there’s pictures of him as young as eight-months-old that I can find with this glow in his eye.
“The whole iris had a glow and it was a goldy, silvery kind of colour when I took a picture with the flash.
“So he’s had it for so long and I had no clue whatsoever.
“When I take a picture, sometimes the flash makes my eyes go funny and that’s what I put it down to.
“If I didn’t Google it when I did, I would have waited for the eye assessment and we could have been in a lot worse case scenario than we are now.”
The full-time-mum described Cayson as a ‘very sweet’ little boy with a massive personality who loves to make people laugh.
She said she started noticing his left eye was slightly different to his other when he was two.
Chloe said: “His eye was pretty glazy, looked very cloudy and wasn’t as bright compared to the other one.
“And there wasn’t much reaction to that eye, it didn’t move with the other one, there was a bit of a delay.
“I put it down to him having a lazy eye.
“I mentioned my concerns to a health visitor and she did a referral for a hearing and eye test and the only thing I heard from was the hearing test, not the eye test.
“I thought maybe he might need glasses or an eye patch to straighten the eye or something, I never thought it would be something as serious as it was.”
Chloe said she received a call in April from Cayson’s nursery asking to pick him up as his eye had become red and inflamed, so she called the doctors and sent them photographs of it, but didn’t hear back.
Around four weeks later, her mum noticed his eye was deteriorating so she googled his symptoms and the word ‘retinoblastoma’ came up.
The 22-year-old visited the GP the following day who referred her to Bimingham Children’s Hospital.
There it was identified that Cayson’s left retina was no longer attached, meaning he was completely blind in that eye, which could be down to him having either retinoblastoma or coats’ disease.
Chloe returned to the hospital on Friday 24 June and after further examinations and tests, Cayson was officially diagnosed with retinoblastoma.
Chloe said: “They said that his eye was unsaveable and the worst possible outcome was that he had to have an enucleation [eye removal].
“I was kind of expecting it. I just worked myself up that that’s what it was going to be that when I heard the words, it just made my heart sink.
“I just couldn’t stop crying. I felt guilty.
“I was told by the hospital that he should have had checks when he was one years old for this kind of stuff, and there was no checks done.
“I’m a young mum – we already haven’t got a clue compared to some more advanced mums who’ve already had children and are a bit older and understand these kinds of things.
“The surgeon and consultant both said that they believe he might need chemo because of how large the tumour was, the surgeon said it was one of the largest they’ve seen in a long time.
“In his notes it said that the tumour was ‘extra large’.”
After Cayson received dilating eye drops, the pressure in his eye became very high and he became very poorly, so was kept in hospital for a week before his operation as he was showing symptoms of the tumour spreading.
Luckily, an MRI scan on Friday 8 July confirmed that wasn’t the case and he had his eye removed the following Tuesday.
It was then sent of to pathology to determine whether or not he needed to have chemotherapy and Chloe received the good news last week [12 August] that he didn’t.
Chloe said: “He’s technically received the all clear now.
“He’ll still have to have check ups all the time for the other eye and for his prosthetic eye to be removed and replaced as he’s growing.
“I was crying. I was over the moon that he didn’t need to go through any more suffering than he already has.
“That simple operation has essentially saved his life and made him ten times better.
“He’s happy and is learning a lot more because he’s not in pain and we can start moving forward.
“He’s back to his happy and cheeky self now. He’s brilliant and is now thriving.
“If you do see a glow in their eye, they’re squinting a lot, have cloudy eyes or just generally always look like their in pain but can’t tell you that they’re in pain or always complaining of a headache.
“Those kind of things should be checked because they could be signs of retinoblastoma.”
What is Retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that can affect young children, usually under the age of five.
If it’s picked up early, retinoblastoma can often be successfully treated. More than nine out of ten children with the condition are cured.
Retinoblastoma can either affect one or both eyes. If it affects both eyes, it’s usually diagnosed before a child is one year old. If it affects one eye, it tends to be diagnosed later (between the ages of two and three). It’s unusual for retinoblastoma to progress unnoticed beyond the age of 5.
Signs and symptoms of retinoblastoma include: An unusual white reflection in the pupil, a squint, a change in the colour of the iris, a red or inflamed eye or poor vision – such as your child may not focus on faces or objects, or they may not be able to control their eye movements.