UK Woman Detects Infant Son’s Rare Eye Cancer Using Phone’s Camera Flash

A woman in London has claimed that she was able to detect her infant son’s rare cancer using the flash on her phone’s camera. Sarah Hedges, a support worker from Kent, was in the kitchen cooking dinner in November 2022 when she spotted a “white glow” in her three-month-old son’s eye. According to the New York Post, she described the unusual glow as reflecting the light “like a cat’s eye” and took photos with the flash turned on with her phone to see if she could spot it again.

On the first attempt, Ms Hedges, 40, was unable to see the white glow again and wondered whether it was just the lighting. However, the doubt never left her conscience so she moved her son, Thomas, around in different rooms near lighting and eventually saw it again.

Ms Hedges then immediately turned to Google for more help. Her search results suggested that her son might have cancer. She took more photos and went to the doctor who directed her to Medway Hospital for further examination.

The three-month-old baby was indeed diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of eye cancer that affects babies and young children, the outlet reported. “The doctor called us back into his room to discuss the results. I was in the bathroom. When I came out, he was waiting for me. I knew then it wasn’t good news – no doctor waits for someone outside the toilet, do they?” she recounted.

“Before he said anything I asked, ‘Is it cancer?’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not good news,'” she continued.

Thomas was referred to the Royal London Hospital. He had six rounds of chemotherapy starting in November 2022. After battling sepsis, he finished his final round of chemotherapy in April 2023 and was declared cancer-free in May.

Sarah Hedges said that Thomas is recovering well. She describes him as a “cheeky little boy” who loves to rough and tumble with his older brother.

Notably, according to the National Health Service (NHS), retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that can affect young children, mostly affecting children under three years of age. The disease can be in one or both eyes and affects the back of the eye (the retina). Typical signs of retinoblastoma include a white glow, which may only appear in certain lights, or a squint, as well as a change in the appearance of the eye or a swollen eye, although often only one sign or symptom is present.