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One Photo Helped Dad Discover Son's Cancer

| by Kit Bryer

Discovering that your child may be facing any sort of deadly illness is a parent's worst nightmare, but that is exactly what happened to one couple when they saw a photo they had taken of their son -- that photo looked a little unusual.

In December 2016 mom Emily Smith and father Owen Scrivens, a medical student, noticed that a picture they had taken of their son, Jaxson, looked odd. The reflection from the camera's flash had shown up as two very different colors; one eye reflecting red, the other bright white. 

"We all have flash cameras on our phones these days and after taking a few of Jax I noticed this white reflection in one of his eyes," Scrivens explained, according to the Chichester Observer. 

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"When I looked back at other photos I [realized] every one of them had the same."

Then, on Dec. 21, 2016, their worst fears were confirmed when a specialist at the Royal London Hospital diagnosed little Jaxson with retinoblastoma -- the child had a cancerous tumor in his eye.

Doctors put Jaxson's tumor at a grade D on a scale of A to E, which means it could grow and spread quickly if left untreated. 

"When the doctor told us the news Emily just burst into tears," Scrivens said. "It was horrible."

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Doctors told Jaxson's parents he had to start chemotherapy as soon as possible if there was going to be any chance of saving their son's eye. 

Jaxson's first round of treatment was not delayed. He reportedly started chemotherapy just nine days after the initial diagnosis. 

"After the chemo he’s very sick for a couple of days, he’s just not his usual self and doesn’t want to do anything, but after a few days he gets back to his usual happy self," Scrivens said, according to Metro. 

But the father says the chemo is paying off, telling sources that the tumor has already shrunken to a third of its original size.

"It’s going insanely well and we’re so proud of him," Scrivens added.

The young couple, both of whom are under 21, are fortunate to have the love and support of their family during these difficult times. They also have the care and support of the Piam Brown unit in Southampton General Hospital where Jaxson is undergoing his treatments, as well as Sussex Snowdrop Trust, a charity that helps fund treatment for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Jaxson's mother started a GoFundMe fundraiser, written from the perspective of her son, to raise funds for their family and the organizations that have provided them with support. She is also asking supporters to spread the word and "know the glow," a reference to the tell-tale camera flash reflection that first alerted her to a problem. 

"I want nothing more than to raise money for the amazing people that have helped us so far and to raise awareness for retinoblastoma," She wrote.

This is the second time in under a year that this particular family made headlines for their misfortune. Scrivens was in the news in August 2016 after surviving a freak accident in which a motorcyclist smashed the side view mirror of Scrivens' vehicle while in motion. 

The glass from the mirror whizzed back into the vehicle and sliced Scrivens' throat, narrowly missing Jaxson, and caused a scene as blood poured down the father's shirt.

Despite a string of unfortunate circumstances, the couple seems to be staying positive. 

"There is always a silver lining," Scrivens wrote on Facebook. "For example a lady I met not that long ago who had both her eyes removed at the age of 65…"

Scrivens added that he told the woman, "It must've been devastating, to go your life with sight then have it taken away," and she replied, "Listen, I haven't bought a light bulb for years. I hardly pay for electricity, I mean what's the point in having the lights on! I mean really I've saved a lot of money, which means I can have my heating on and afford nicer foods."

"Obviously it is a horrid thing to happen, but sometimes it's your attitude towards the things that really make things what they are," Scrivens concluded.

Sources: Chichester Observer, Metro, GoFundMe, Owen Charles Scrivens/Facebook / Photo credit: GoFundMe, Emily Smith/Facebook (234)

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