By GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — 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 ABC News’ 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.”
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.
“She was taken to St. Jude’s that night,” Martin told GMA.
Since then, little Sariyah has been diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is, according to the St. Jude’s website, 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.”
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 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.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.