A six-month-old boy was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer after his mother noticed something strange when watching her son on the baby monitor.
While Benny’s mom was monitoring him in his crib one night, she noticed one of her son’s eyes looked completely black and the other looked like a shining light on the screen.
She initially thought the different colored eyes were due to an error on the baby monitor, but when his grandmother also said his eye looked cloudy in certain light, Benny’s mom took him to see a pediatrician.
After an MRI, doctors diagnosed the six-month-old with retinoblastoma, a very rare cancer of the retina that usually begins in the back of the eye, most commonly in children.
Benny’s cancer had developed in the eye that had looked like a black pool on the monitor.
Dr Matthew Dietz, a pediatric oncologist at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, said parents should pay attention to similar signs in their children: ‘Parents need to take notice of photos, videos, and other images of their children where one eye glows and the other doesn’t.’
Cured but ‘remains’ still persist
Doctors at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Murray, Utah were able to cure the cancer and save some of the sight in Benny’s left eye, but his mother — who asked not to be named — said he was still experiencing vision problems.
Speaking about her son’s recovery, she told KUTV: ‘The cancer was caught early.
‘However, looking back now and knowing what I am looking for, I can see the “glow” [in Benny’s eye] as early as three months old.
‘I had never heard of retinoblastoma before and, if this story somehow comes up when the next worried parent “Googles” about their kid, then me missing it for three months was worth something to someone else.’
Rather than infuse Benny’s entire body with toxic chemotherapy, doctors treated him by inserting a micro-catheter, a tube as thin as a thread, into an artery in his leg and running it through his body to the tumor in his eye to deliver chemotherapy directly into the mass.
Benny received treatments through his catheter once every few weeks for several months.
And while Benny’s mother said her son would become sick for several days after chemotherapy, he would always smile and interact with his doctors and nurses.
Doctors also wanted to investigate the origin of Benny’s cancer and geneticists discovered he was missing retinoblastoma 1 gene, which is not typically seen in kids with this cancer.
More extensive genetic sequencing found the six-month-old was missing part of chromosome 13, which is rare and can lead to other medical problems.
Now 18 months old, Benny has been declared cancer free but must go back to hospital every month for check-ups.
What is Retinoblastoma?
While doctors were able to mostly save his sight in his left eye, he did lose some vision and is now attending Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind to help him adapt to the change.
His mother also said he is facing some developmental delays.
Benny is currently learning to transition to sitting, she said, and is ‘very fearful of transitioning from a position where he feels very stable’.
Retinoblastoma is rare, but it is the most common childhood eye cancer and about 300 cases are diagnosed every year.