Practically every parent’s phone is filled with hundred of photos of their little ones, and usually looking back at those adorable pictures will instantly put a smile on their face.
Yet when one UK dad was looking back a photo he’d just taken of his 14-month-old son Jaxson, he couldn’t help but feel disconcerted. While looking at a photo of the baby, dad Owen Scrivens noticed an odd, white reflection in only one of the baby’s eyes.
Owen started researching the issue online and took Jaxson straight to the doctor when he found out it could be cancer. “I looked through some old photos and you actually can see the point where it changes in late November,” said Owen, a medicine student. There’d been nothing else wrong, although after we noticed the eye colour he started to develop a bit of a squint.” The family was referred to an eye specialist, where Owen’s worst fear was confirmed. Jaxson had retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer caused by an overgrowth of retinal cells.
Doctors gave the family two choices. Either remove Jaxson’s eye, or begin chemotherapy immediately and hopefully save as much of his eyesight in the eye as possible. Owen and his wife Emily both agreed to give chemotherapy a chance, and thankfully the tumor has already shrunk to a third of its size. “After the chemo he’s very sick for a couple of days, he’s just not his usual self and doesn’t want to do anything, but after a few days he gets back to his usual happy self. His sight is alright – they can’t do a proper eye test but from what they’ve found, he’s missing a bit of tunnel vision,” Owen said. “It’s going insanely well and we’re so proud of him.”
The tumor will never fully disappear, but doctors hope it will shrink to a small benign mass that will be closely monitored for the rest of Jaxson’s life. While everything has been going well, the treatment is still extremely expensive and the young parents have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for his treatment and medical expenses. “It’s hard enough being a young couple, and it’s been really difficult to support ourselves. We’ve had to take time off work, so it’s been financially hard as well as emotionally.”
The couple is also sharing their story to warn parents to immediately go to a doctor if you notice anything strange about a child’s eye. “We really want to raise awareness of this cancer – it’s something so simple to spot, it doesn’t come up in every photo and not everyone will be able to spot it but a lot of people will,” said Owen. “Some children at the hospital had both their eyes removed, which is horrible, and we want people to catch it early.”
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[Featured image: GoFundMe/Emily Smith]