OAKLAND, N.J. — Six months after seven chemotherapy treatments and dozens of trips to Philadelphia specialists, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Oakland baby was finally stable — one day shy of his first birthday.
Liam Spingler seemed perfectly healthy until one fateful day in May when parents Jared and Jessica Spingler noticed trouble with his left eye.
The Spinglers found themselves in an opthamalogist's office with then-6-month-old Liam three days after visiting their pediatrician, hopeful the expert would be able to disprove the Internet's best guess.
"As soon as he dilated Liam's eyes it was the worst moment of our lives," Jessica Spingler said. "He held the light up to his eyes and took this deep breath and....I just knew."
The large tumor in Liam's left eye was blocking his red reflex. There were several smaller ones in his right eye.
Liam was one of approximately 300 babies in the United States affected by retinoblastoma, according to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital -- one of only 90 who get it in both eyes, Jessica Spingler said.
The good part is that most pediatricians check for retinoblastoma, she said. The bad part is that sometimes the tumors don't always block the red reflex. Spingler says her family got lucky.
"We were basically fighting for his eyesight," she said. "And he has it."
The most common way to detect retinoblastoma is through flash photography, Spingler explained.
“The glow,” an abnormal red eye reflex, appears as a white or gold pupil in photographs. It indicates several potentially devastating and preventable childhood eye diseases including retinoblastoma.
Baby Liam was featured on the "Know the Glow" website ( SEE: Liam's Story ).
"Every single person knows the breast cancer ribbon is pink," she said. "Ask what color childhood cancer ribbon is and nobody knows it's gold."
Liam will continue to be monitored closely by doctors every three months and will have two yearly MRIs.
Spingler is just grateful that her baby will be spending his first birthday chemo-free.
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