ABC News/YouTube

Mother discovers cancer in son’s eye after seeing viral Facebook photo

A single snap saved a life


Michelle Jaworski


Published May 12, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 8:49 pm CDT

A single picture can say a lot—and even save a life.

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Julie Fitzgerald had initially noticed some spots in her 2-year-old son Avery’s left eye, but it wasn’t until she saw a viral Facebook post about how a white glow in the eye can signify eye cancer that she thought something was truly wrong.

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Once she took the picture of Avery with her phone, the glow showed up.

Doctors soon confirmed Fitzgerald’s worst fear: Avery had retinoblastoma, and tumors covered 75 percent of his eye. He had it removed, and Fitzgerald is currently waiting to see if Avery will eventually need to have chemotherapy.

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“If we did not get this eye out, the cancer would spread to his blood and to his brain,” Fitzgerald told ABC News. “Our lives went from normal to a cancer survivor in three weeks. It turned out to be our worst nightmare but it saved our son’s life.”

It’s not the first time that a viral Facebook post has saved a life. Last month, a woman named Joanna Murphy discovered her daughter’s retinoblastoma after finding a similar Facebook story in her News Feed. Tara Taylor learned her daughter Rylee had Coats’ disease after a Facebook friend noticed the white glow in her eye and urged her to get it checked. And even as far back as 2010, another mother discovered her daughter’s retinoblastoma after a Facebook friend, who worked in pediatrics, sent her a frantic message.

H/T Good Morning America | Screengrab via ABC News/YouTube

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*First Published: May 12, 2015, 12:38 pm CDT