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iPhone photo helps mother in Georgia discover son’s rare eye cancer



A photo taken of a mother from Georgia saved her son’s life.

Josie Rock, a 41-year-old parent of three from Gainesville, discovered that her 3-month-old son, Asher, had a rare form of cancer when he snapped a picture of him. She said the flash accidentally went off and revealed an abnormality in her son̵

7;s right eye.

Asher Rock, who is 7 years old today, is a survivor of grade D retinoblastoma after being diagnosed when he was only 3 months old.  His mother, Josie Rock, discovered a tumor in her right eye after it had a white glow on a picture.

Asher Rock, who is 7 years old today, is a survivor of grade D Retinoblastoma after being diagnosed when he was only 3 months old. His mother, Josie Rock, discovered a tumor in her right eye after it had a white glow on a picture.
(Regards Josie Rock)

“I just took pictures of him, and the light happened to change in our room, the flash caught the reflection and his eye glowed white,” Rock told FOX News on Tuesday.

Rock, an occupational nurse, remembered learning about retinoblastoma – a type of eye cancer that begins in the back of the eye and is most common in children. Tumors in the eye can be detected in photo flashes as white when the tumor covers what will usually be a red reflection of the retina.

“I knew right there and there that Asher had cancer. It was relaxing to say the least. He was just a baby,” Rock said.

Azer's right eye had a white glow to it, and warned the mother to seek medical help for her son, who was 3 months old at the time.

Asher’s right eye had a white glow to it, and warned his mother to seek medical help for her son, who was 3 months old at the time.
(Regards Josie Rock)

She took several pictures on a professional camera and shared them with her nurses’ colleagues, who told her that the glow in Azer’s eyes could simply be due to the light.

But Rock wanted to be sure, so she took Asher to the pediatrician.

“I remember the color tapped from her [the doctor’s] face after she did the proper examination. “She turned off the lights and looked into his eyes and said, ‘Something’s not right,'” Rock said.

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Asher was diagnosed with grade D retinoblastoma, which is defined by the American Cancer Society as “large or poorly defined tumors with widespread vitreous or subretinal insertion. The retina may have been detached from the back of the eye.” The most severe stage of retinoblastoma is group E.

Asher, pictured here, underwent treatment at the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center Clinic at Children's Healthcare in Atlanta.

Asher, pictured here, underwent treatment at the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center Clinic at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta.
(Regards Josie Rock)

“There are two types, hereditary and non-hereditary. Those with hereditary, their parents may have had it so that they are checked at birth, while if you do not have a family history, it is difficult to know if you have it,” Dr. Tomas Olson, director of the solid tumor program at the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, told FOX.

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“First we gave him [Asher] intravenous chemotherapy and the ophthalmologist used lasers on the spots [on his eye] and that was the answer. He discontinued chemotherapy in 2015. The problem with retinoblastoma is that it can appear elsewhere. Over time, he had some new ones appear, and they were lasered, “Olson said.

Asher has passed 54 exams to date and is still undergoing treatment.

“I have never known a stronger child,” Rock said. “He’s so positive – he’s not a complainant – he finds joy in everything we do.”


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