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Photos provided a clue to baby's eye cancer

January 12, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Tribune Health
  • Brendan Shannon, center, 22 months, with parents Danielle and Tim and brother Liam. Brendan was diagnosed with eye cancer just after his first birthday.
Brendan Shannon, center, 22 months, with parents Danielle and Tim and brother… (Corey R. Minkanic /For the…)

It was a photo of 8-month-old Brendan Shannon that provided the most telling evidence that something was wrong with one of his eyes. The problem was noticeable but not enough to ring alarm bells for his parents. That would come later.

Brendan was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, an eye cancer that can give the eye a milky-white appearance. In this Chicago Tribune story, his mother says only after an initial diagnosis did she go back and look at photos of her young son.

"I wanted to throw up," said Danielle, 31, a former graphic designer. "I felt like it was so obvious. How did we not ever look at these photos? It was like a cat's eye, very reflective and white." The alarm bells had sounded.

Retinoblastoma usually affects children 6 and younger, and more than half the cases show up in families with no history of eye cancer. Here’s more from the National Institutes of Health.

About 300 children, like Brendan, are born with the disease each year in the United States. For Brendan, the cancer was discovered just after his first birthday. Read more about Brendan and his treatment: "Couple recount son's battle with eye cancer ."

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