It’s not uncommon for parents to take loads of photos of their kids. Because we take so many pictures, we don’t always look closely at the ones we have taken.
For one mother from Oregon, taking a second look at her daughter’s eyes in a photo changed their lives.
Elly Smith noticed one of her daughter’s eyes lit up in a photo in a distinct way, different from the other. Elly decided to follow up with then 2-year-old Gracie’s pediatrician. The pediatrician referred her to an eye doctor, who delivered terrible news. In May 2016, several tumors were found in Gracie’s eye. She was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of cancer that develops in the retina.
Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children.
The little girl bravely battled with her family by her side and is doing great today. Elly decided it was important to share with other parents the seemingly innocuous hint that led to Gracie’s diagnosis.
Everyone loves to document their life in photos. For an Oregon mother, one photo of her daughter would change their lives forever.
Elly Smith noticed a glow in one of her daughter’s eyes while looking closer at a photo.
“I knew something was wrong with Gracie because her eye would be glowing, and it looked like she had a lazy eye,” she told SWNS, per Fox News.
She made her daughter a doctor’s appointment the same day. They then underwent further testing with an eye specialist.
Doctors found several tumors in 2-year-old Gracie’s eye. She was diagnosed with retinoblastoma.
The American Cancer Society cites retinoblastoma as the most common form of eye cancer in children. If untreated, tumors can grow and fill the eyeball, leading to more tumors, eye pressure, and glaucoma.
Gracie went to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia for further evaluation. Specialists determined the best course of treatment was to remove Gracie’s affected eye completely and replace it with a prosthetic one.
It wasn’t easy explaining that to such a young child, but Elly says Gracie took it all in stride.
“Gracie was fine with it. She is so resilient,” Elly explained.
It was understandably a scary time for Gracie and her family. Her three brothers were scared for her, but they were also happy to know she would be OK after treatment.
A month after Gracie’s tumors were discovered, she underwent surgery to remove the eye. She began chemotherapy two weeks later.
It took three months until Gracie was cleared for her prosthetic. The little girl was just as brave when it came to that process.
“When they make the eye you get to choose something to put on the top so you know which is the top of the eye — Gracie chose a horse,” her mother recalled.
Gracie is now 5 years old and is currently cancer-free. She still undergoes routine testing every three months to ensure her health remains good.
Gracie isn’t embarrassed about her prosthetic. She tells all of her friends about her “magic” eye.
“She even has taken her spare eye in for show and tell!” Elly revealed. “She has such an amazing spirit — she helped our family get through this.”
Elly hopes that by sharing Gracie’s story, she can help other parents detect retinoblastoma in their own children early. It’s important to follow up with a doctor any time something strikes you as abnormal, especially with younger children. It can be the cautious move that saves their life.