Whether it’s called intuition, a “funny feeling,” or a similar term, there’s something about a mother that always lets her know when something is wrong with their child—and sometimes it even saves a life.
Julie Fitzgerald from Rockford, Illinois is a mother who is always looking out for the best interests of her children. When her son, Avery, was two years old, she and her husband Patrick began noticing strange spots on his left eye. However, they had no idea it could be something serious.
One day, she saw a post on Facebook that immediately caught her attention.
Julie read about a rare form of eye cancer, retinoblastoma.
According to the post, the cancer can sometimes be detected by a white glow in the eye, which can appear in a photograph. Julie decided to snap a picture of Avery just to check.
“I just had this gut feeling in my stomach that something was wrong with his eye,” Julie explained to ABC News.
Sure enough, she saw the described white glow in his left eye.
Beginning to feel the creeping feelings of panic, Julie knew she had to get Avery checked out as soon as possible. She knew the white glow in the eye wasn’t a guaranteed sign of cancer, but it was definitely a good enough reason to take her son to the doctor.
Unfortunately, their lives were turned upside down when doctors shared the news.
2-year-old Avery had retinoblastoma.
“75% of Avery’s left eye contained multiple tumors,” the Fitzgerald family shared on their Go Fund Me page. “Avery was immediately scheduled for surgery.”
It became a matter of life or death if the eye wasn’t removed. The family was shocked and terrified at the thought of what could have happened had Julie not made the discovery.
“If we did not get this eye out, the cancer would spread to his blood and to his brain,” Julie said. “Our lives went from normal to cancer to a cancer survivor in three weeks.”
Avery’s surgery ended up being successful. Although his eye had to be removed, he was able to survive the cancer and go into remission.
“It turned out to be our worst nightmare, but it saved our son’s life,” said Julie.
Avery is back to being the happy and carefree child he always was.
As for Julie and Patrick, having gone through such a terrifying experience, they urge other parents to try the simple photo test to check for a glow in their children’s eyes.
If left undetected, the condition is most often deadly.
“You need to see your doctor right away [if you see the glow],” ABC New’s chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser explained. “It may be retinoblastoma. But if you miss that sign, it is usually fatal.”
Avery’s story ended up having a happy ending, but Julie will never forget that day when she was compelled by a Facebook post to snap a picture of her son—that ended up saving his life.