A mum saved the life of her five-year-old daughter after she noticed her eye was ‘glowing’ in a cute photograph and specialists went on to find TEN TUMOURS.
Elly Smith, 38, noticed the flash highlighted the anomoly in little Gracie Corrigan’s right eye, a tell-tale sign of the rare cancer retinoblastoma.
Surgeons went on to diagnose 10 tumours in Gracie’s eye and optical nerve and operated immediately to remove it.
Gracie is now cancer free and proudly sports a painted prosthetic right eye.
Elly, from Oregon, USA, said: “I knew something was wrong with Gracie because her eye would be glowing, and it looked like she had a lazy eye.
“I made her an appointment the day I noticed it and her doctor referred us to an eye doctor.
“I could tell something was wrong there and noticed the doctor’s chest getting red – I was just asking what was wrong.
“When we found out we tried to explain as best we could to a two-year-old and said her eye had an ‘owee’ and that the doctor had to take it out.
“We called home to her three brothers and told them.
“They were really upset too and we were all scared – but we had to think life before sight.”
Speaking of her new prosthetic eye, Elly said: “Gracie was fine with it. She is so resilient.
“When they make the eye you get to choose something to put on the top so you know which is the top of the eye – Gracie chose a horse.
“Me on the other hand? It was a hard day for me.
“Gracie had been wearing an eye patch since the removal and seeing the prosthetic eye just made it all real.”
Elly noticed a white light in her daughter’s pupil when she took pictures of Gracie, then two-years-old, on May 2016.
She took her to specialists who explained there was a cancerous tumour in Gracie’s eye.
“I didn’t know what to do. I just started crying,” Elly said.
“When we left I remember walking to the car crying and shaking, and buckling Gracie in the car seat not knowing what I was going to do.
“I told Gracie ‘no matter what, you’re going to be OK’.”
Elly and Gracie, now five, flew to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the Wills Eye Hospital, where doctors counted 10 tumours in the eye and optical nerve.
They explained she’d need to have her eye removed the next day.
Ellie said: “I was a mess. We came there for a second opinion but never expected she’d need her eye out the next morning.”
Her husband Sean Corrigan flew to join them that night and Gracie’s eye was removed on 1st June 2016 – 16 days after her mother noticed the white flash in her eye.
She started chemotherapy two weeks later and had a port placed in her chest.
“The first two months were really hard on her,” Elly said. “She was nauseous and had neuropathy badly in her feet from the chemo.”
“We ended up finding a vitamin therapy doctor who helped us get vitamins through her port.”
Three months after her eye was removed, Gracie received her prosthetic eye.
Elly said: “The ocularist painted the eye while we were in there and then we came back the next day to pick it up.
“It was so emotional for me, I think I cried for the next 24 hours!”
Gracie adapted to her new eye quickly and has made a full recovery.
She is still closely monitored, having tests every three months, but has had no problems so far.
Now, she lives with no restrictions, playing with other children her age and telling all of her friends about her “magic eye”.
Elly said: “She even has taken her spare eye in for show and tell! She has such an amazing spirit – she helped our family get through this.”