(LINTON) - Facebook and a friend may have spurred the diagnosis which could save a young child's sight - and life.
Mark Stalcup, of Greene County Daily World, reports that as Carson Albright, 2, and his family battle cancer, they're utilizing websites and an on-line blog to keep friends and family updated on his treatments.
"We are dealing with an extremely difficult, scary situation, but we have also been blessed with a wonderful boy that makes anything that happens in the next 6 months, (or the rest of our lives for that matter) worth it," Carson's mom, Linton's Brittney Albright, writes from Cincinnati.
"The time we share with him outweighs the dreariness of chemo, the procedures he will have to go through, and the cancer that he will have to overcome. We are proud to be his parents and to hold his hand as he moves forward on this journey."
Mere weeks after Brent Rager, a family friend, noticed abnormalities in photos suggesting trouble with the child's eyes, he and his parents Jared and Brittney have traveled to Ohio, preparing for treatment at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
It started so simply, with Rager's observation about a small detail in a Facebook photograph.
That tip to Jared Albright about "white eye reflections" potentially indicating serious eye conditions raised concerns.
"The classic sign is the yellowish white eye, or cat's eye, that shows up when the camera flashes," Brittney Albright writes, remembering the "bizarre" phone call from her husband that raised the concern.
"I didn't know what he was talking about and what he was saying wasn't making sense, but I decided to look at it because there was a slight sound of panic to his voice; something that I rarely hear from Jared."
Carson's photos led them to the doctors. That led to the diagnosis: retinoblastoma, a form of cancer affecting Carson's left eye.
Now, the family's transported Carson to the care of specialists, and treatment's underway.
"Facebook could potentially have saved Carson's life," Jared Albright said. "If it had gone any longer, it could have transferred other places in his body."
The diagnosis and treatment have come in a matter of weeks, with the first symptoms emerging in late March.
"We went to the optometrist, and he saw some abnormalities with veins," Jared Albright said. "From there, we went to our first opthamologist, and he referred us to another."
The family travelled to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
"We were in Cincinnati on Thursday, then back on Monday, and now we're prescreening for chemotherapy," said Jared Albright Tuesday evening.
The intra-arterial therapy begins today, a localized form of chemotherapy which could shrink the tumors in Carson's eyes.
"Next, laser or cryotherapy treatments could ultimately remove the tumors in Carson's eyes.
"The doctors will actually perform intra-arterial chemotherapy, where they will go in with a microcatheter through an artery in his leg, then thread it up," starting today, Jared Albright said. "The chemotherapy will go directly to his eye, and be localized. The goal is to shrink the tumors."
Carson - not even three years old - faces a struggle no toddler should ever have to endure - cancer in a child so young he can barely comprehend what's happening to him.
Yet even amid the treatments, the family had the chance to spend a joyous day taking Carson's mind off medicine.
"We took him to the zoo to see the animals, and of course, to ride the choo choo train (or as he says, poo poo train)," Brittney writes in the family's on-line blog, "Keeping up with Carson."
That blog, http://keepingupwithcarson.wordpress.com, allows family and friends updates on the treatments, a high tech way to let those concerned know what's next.
Tuesday's day at the zoo - the only one this week where Carson won't face medical treatments - also brought good news, as the family's infant daughter Aedrie was also examined and showed no signs of retinoblastoma.
That means it's likely Carson's cancer is non-hereditary and unilateral.
Faith has played a crucial role in the family's journey. The Albrights say they're grateful for the prayers and support friends have shown, and believe God, coupled with medicine and faith will find a way to heal.
"God has shown us the way from the beginning of our marriage and in everything that has followed. There were moments when Jared and I would stare at each other in awe because God had worked a situation out to a ' T' the very minute that we needed it," Brittney Albright writes.
"We have been well aware of that and to depend on our faith because no matter what, God is in control."
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