People who have lightly colored eyes (i.e. blue, green) tend to have more red eye in photos. It's annoying to have to use the delay flash to take the red eye reflex out of the picture and equally as annoying to have to edit lots of red eye photos once downloaded. Normally, I don't use flash when taking pictures as I shoot in program mode or more recently, manual. Sometimes however, I'll use a point and shoot that has an auto flash and have to take red eye out later.
Early on, I noticed that in red eye pictures, Oliver had one white eye. I noticed it, but didn't really think much of it. A simple 'hmm' and I was over it. Fast forward a month or so and we saw a clip on the news about Relay for Life (American Cancer Society's annual fundraiser/awareness event). The piece featured a mom and her son who had both had the same type of cancer. At the end of the clip, the mom said something to the effect of, 'I knew he had retinoblastoma because his eye was white in the photo, just like mine was before I was diagnosed.' They showed a photo of a little boy not yet one-year old with one red eye and one white eye.
(I know this is blurry - I don't use this type of camera often.)
It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I felt so sick. If you're not familiar with the term 'blastoma' it's a cancer word. Related to the 'c' word. The hard to say, never want to hear word.
The following morning, I called the pediatric ophthalmologist's office and set up an appointment. The receptionist gave me a date three weeks away. As she was finishing her questions, she asked the reason for our visit and upon telling her, she asked if we could come in at 10 that morning. I pulled it together enough to call Chandler to see if he could come home to make it and I hurried to get ready.
Nothing has ever been more terrifying to me than the thought of Oliver being sick.
We saw an amazing doctor and we are so, so thankful to live in an area that has a pediatric specialist in just about every field of medicine. We are doubly thankful to have great insurance that doesn't require a referral or pre-authorization. The technician dilated Oliver's eyes after doing a few exercises with him. Our doctor said he did NOT see any tumors, however he also did not see as much pigment as he'd like to see. He also found that both retinas were underdeveloped. Being that Oliver was so young, he asked to see him again in six weeks.
That follow up appointment was yesterday. There is slightly more pigment this time, but still not as much as he'd like to see. His retinas are still underdeveloped, but have improved since last time. Down the road, we could end up with a diagnosis of ocular albinism, but for now, he's holding off on any formal diagnosis. The good news is that there are still NO tumors.
They did the same things as in our original appointment and found that the right eye is slightly stronger than the left eye. To help strengthen his left eye, we will use a patch over the right eye for an hour each day. So far, Oliver has tolerated the patch as much as we can expect. We try to play a lot and show him new things so it stays as interesting as possible. Our next appointment is in October.
Honestly, I didn't plan to blog about this. I was afraid - afraid to admit it to myself that we could be faced with something big. Through this however, I have come to appreciate being Oliver's mom. I have also had to realize that while he is my baby, he is God's child and ultimately, God will decide his life. I am here to raise him, teach him, guide him and love him. It is a privilege to be his mom and I have to remind myself of this when my fears try to keep me from relying on the Word to get through rough times.
I decided to share our story because had someone else's story not been shared, we wouldn't have known to have it checked out. And to make this full circle - yes, we emailed the reporter who covered the story and thanked her for the piece and asked that she also express our thanks to the producer for not cutting out the last few seconds that included showing the photo. With our permission, the reporter passed our email to the mother in the story, who also emailed us. :)