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iPhone flash helps Georgia mom identify rare form of cancer in her son

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

An image snapped on an iPhone alerted a Georgia mother to her son having a rare form of cancer, leading to treatment that saved his life.

Josie Rock, 41, discovered that her 3-month-old son, Asher, had cancer after her iPhone flash accidentally went off. The image showed that Asher's right eye was glowing white. Rock, a labor and delivery nurse, recognized the white eye as a sign that Asher could have retinoblastoma, she told Fox News.

Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer that begins in the back of the eye. It's most common among children, and can be identified via photo flashes.

"I was just taking pictures of him and the lighting happened to change in our room, the flash caught the reflection and his eye was glowing white. I knew right then and there that Asher had cancer. It was chilling to say the least. He was just a baby," said Rock.

Rock took more images of her eye using a professional camera and shared them with their nurse colleagues. Although they said that the glow could have been due to the lighting, Rock took her son to the pediatrician, just to be sure.

"I remember the color drained from her [the doctor's] face after she did the proper examination. She turned the lights off and looked at his eyes and said, Something's not right'," Rock told Fox News on Tuesday.

Asher was diagnosed with grade D retinoblastoma, defined as "large or poorly defined tumors with widespread vitreous or subretinal seeding." The most severe stage of retinoblastoma is group E, according to the American Cancer Society.

"At first we gave [Asher] chemotherapy intravenous and the ophthalmologist used lasers on the spots [on his eye] and there were responses. He finished chemo in 2015. The problem with retinoblastoma is it can pop up in other places. Over time, he had a few new ones pop up and they were lasered," said Dr. Thomas Olson of Aflac Cancer Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Asher, who is now seven years old, has undergone 54 exams and is still being treated. His mother, however, praised his positivity through it all.

"I have never known a stronger kid. He's so positive - he's not a complainer - he finds the joy in everything we do," Rock said.

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