Social media helps mom spot rare cancer in her baby's eye

·3 min read

A mom who followed her instincts is the reason her daughter is now being treated for cancer in her eye.

It was July 30, Jasmine Martin told "Good Morning America," when she saw it. Prior to that day, she said, there had been "a small glow" in her daughter Sariyah's eye. "But that day, it was like a moon."

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She posted the photo to Facebook looking for advice. Several people commented it could be cancerous.

Martin took her daughter to the pediatrician, who told the Knoxville, Tennessee, mom it was nothing to worry about. But Martin's instincts told her otherwise.

"It was going to take weeks to get an ophthalmologist appointment," Martin told "GMA." So, she said she emailed the photo to a friend who worked at a hospital, who in turn showed it to a doctor.

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"She was taken to St. Jude's that night," Martin told "GMA."

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Last Thurs I noticed the glow in her eye was drastically larger and looked like a white hole. I’ve noticed it over the past few wks but it was small, and only showed at certain angles. I regret it now, by not thinking anymore of it. I just had a feeling she needed to be seen. Her dr got her in and said it was nothing serious. She said they’d just done an eye exam at her well check, but they did another one. She said her red reflexes were good, and googled stuff on cloudy eyes. I still wasn’t reassured, call it a mother’s intuition I suppose. But she referred her to an ophthalmologist. However, she let me know it would take weeks if not longer. The next part of the story is nothing short of a God story. A doctor/friend from work saw the photo I posted and messaged me. She reached out to an eye doctor and she wanted to see her immediately Monday(today).All weekend it felt like I was just holding my breath. “She has a tumor in her eye, and there’s a lot of seeds in the back.” It was like I was sitting outside of my body in that moment. The rest was a blur, and friends from work walked over and played with riyah while I talked with the doctor. St.Judes wants us there today, so we can meet with a doctor that specializes with retinoblastoma in the morning. She said I need to plan to stay for a week. I’m scared, confused, angry heartbroken and everything else. I’m upset her pediatrician said it was all fine, but now I know they just don’t see it that often. When this is over I’ll do my best to make sure there’s more awareness and education, so that all parents will be taken seriously should they ever notice it in their child’s eyes. Out of 14yrs of working in the hospital I’m always the one making appointments. I’ve seen parents completely undone as doctors have delivered heartbreaking news. But today it’s appointments being made for my own child, it’s me coming completely undone. We are on the way to St.Judes & have childcare set up for now. Unfortunately Jeff will still have to travel back and forth, but he’s staying with us as much as he can. We have no clue what to expect until the mri, so please just pray for her. Sariyah Rose is a fighter.

A post shared by @ raisingthemartins on Aug 3, 2020 at 1:29pm PDT

Since then, little Sariyah has been diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is, according to the St. Jude's web site, a rare form of cancer affecting about 250-300 children each year. It "typically develops in children before 5 years of age. This cancer develops in the retina -- the part of the eye that helps a person see color and light. Retinoblastoma may affect one or both eyes. In about two-thirds of all cases only one eye is affected," the website reads.

There's been strides forward and steps back for the 17-month-old and her family. Though the toddler was released from the hospital and sent home in late September, there's cause for concern: a tiny spot in her left eye that had been laser treated has returned. At the same time, the tumor in her right eye, the one with the large glow, is shrinking.

Martin wrote in her most recent Instagram update, "We are so early in this but ... days are mentally draining, because you just never know what they are going to find. It’s hard and it’s scary. If I allow myself to really think about it, if something happens to the good eye, then there’s still so many risks with the right eye. It’s a never ending battle of what ifs right now."

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I spent most of yesterday trying to process everything, and wanted to wait until I could talk to the doctors today. You may not remember but she had a tiny spot in her left eye in the beginning that they used laser treatment on. Since she has bilateral retinoblastoma we knew there was a chance of tumor recurrence at any time in both eyes. But everything was going good, the tumor in the right eye is shrinking and we were so excited. Which is why yesterday was a gut punch for us. They have found a spot in the left eye. At this time they don’t know if it’s a tumor or something else. As doctors they have to prepare us for everything including the worst case scenario, which is that it could put her at risk of vision loss in that eye. We are so early in this but EUA days are mentally draining, because you just never know what they are going to find. It’s hard and it’s scary. If I allow myself to really think about it, if something happens to the good eye, then there’s still so many risks with the right eye. It’s a never ending battle of what ifs right now. A complete stranger on social media told me this is the risks of eye cancer and to expect the possibility of blindness. But that’s so easy to say to someone on the outside looking in and quite frankly you just don’t say that, because yes I know that but it’s still hard. No one wakes up wanting their child to lose their vision. But I won’t allow my thoughts to go there, I’ll try to fix my vision on the One who is good. I’ll keep praying, pleading, and asking others to pray for a complete and miraculous healing that only God can do. And after talking with the doctor I feel a little more relieved. They are so proactive and whatever it is, it was caught early. They are doing a FULL work up which will give us answers moving forward. However, we won’t have answers for a few weeks. Everyone knows how hard waiting can be, so I ask that you please pray it’s nothing serious at all. And she did great with the chemo which means she is COMING HOME TODAY! THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!! 🎉Chemo course 3/11 is DONE, baby girl isn’t playing around!She’s handling it like a boss, with a smile on her face & God’s grace❤

A post shared by @ raisingthemartins on Sep 24, 2020 at 11:20am PDT

Sariyah is "so happy," her mom said, "You wouldn't even know she is going through this," she said, referring to hospital stays and chemotherapy. "Even when it makes her sick and she has a fever she's still playing with her siblings," Martin told "GMA."

Friends and neighbors have stepped up to help the family through this difficult time, something Martin said has touched her. From meal trains to a car, "there are so many good people in the world," she told "GMA."

She's hopeful sharing her Sariyah's story, which she does both on Instagram and Facebook. will encourage mothers to follow their instincts when it comes to their children's health. "Mothers know," she said.

Social media helps mom spot rare cancer in her baby's eye originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com

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