Mom Noticed A Strange Glow In Her Son's Eye, Turned Out It Was A Sign Of A Deadly Disease

Date December 5, 2018

Sometimes, cancer presents in strange ways. It may be difficult to notice unusual manifestations of the disease, but this mom did, and she's sharing her story to warn other parents.

Ryder's story

Andrea Michaels and her husband were over the moon when they found out they were going to become parents for the second time. After a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy, it was a relief to see a positive pregnancy test.


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READ ALSO: This Grandpa Noticed Something Odd About His Granddaughter's Eye Just In Time

When Andrea was about 12 weeks pregnant, a test showed that the baby would likely have Down syndrome. The mom was a little worried about his future but refused to terminate the pregnancy.

On September 3, 2015, Andrea gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Apart from the Down syndrome, the baby was perfectly healthy and didn’t even need NICU time like most babies born with DS do, the mom wrote in her story for Love What Matters. The happy parents named him Ryder.


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Ryder was a perfect baby, and his mom couldn’t stop taking pictures of him. Shortly before Ryder’s 4-month appointment, Andrea noticed a strange glow in his left eye. She thought nothing of it but decided to tell the doctor about it anyway.


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It’s a good thing she did tell. Ryder’s pediatrician referred them to a specialist who examined his eye and sent them to another specialist. That’s when Ryder’s parents heard the earth-shattering news: he had retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer.


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The parents now needed to make a decision about Ryder’s treatment and they needed to do it fast. One of the options was the removal of the affected eye, but Andrea and her husband chose to explore other options and found the safest and most effective chemo treatment at one of New York cancer clinics.

Writing for Love What Matters, Andrea recalled:

Ryder and I made this trip every 4 weeks for 8 months. Remarkably, Ryder only needed two rounds of chemo! The rest was laser treatment. The doctor said he can’t say that has never happened before, but it’s a rare miracle. I’m certain his extra chromosome helped him kick cancer butt fast.


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Today, Ryder is a happy 3-year-old. He is cancer-free and has regular checks to make sure cancer hasn’t returned. And his mom has a simple message to all parents:

When taking photos of your children, please leave the flash on.


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READ ALSO: Medical Mystery! 3 Friends Have Been Diagnosed With A Rare Form Of Eye Cancer. Is It Just A Coincidence?

What is retinoblastoma and how common is it?

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that starts in the retina (the light-sensitive part of the eye). According to the American Cancer Society, about 200 to 300 children are diagnosed with the disease every year in the United States. Adults may develop retinoblastoma, but it’s even less common in adults than in children.

According to Mayo Clinic, signs of the disease may include the following:

  • a white glow in the pupil when the light is shone in the eye, such as when taking a flash picture;
  • eyes seem to be looking in different directions;
  • eye redness;
  • eye swelling.

Mom Noticed A Strange Glow In Her Son's Eye, Turned Out It Was A Sign Of A Deadly DiseaseRobert Przybysz /

If you notice a white glow in pictures of your child taken with the flash on and/or if your child has eye symptoms, see a doctor. That glow may mean a lot of other things, not just eye cancer. But even if it’s a benign eye problem, it’s best to get a diagnosis and treatment early.

READ ALSO: Mom Was Diagnosed With A Rare Cancer And Had An Eye Removed When She Was 8 Months Pregnant. How Is She Doing Now?