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Alberta mom suspects eye cancer in son after reading about it days before, leading to early diagnosis

Click to play video: 'Alberta mom suspects eye cancer in son after reading about it days before' Alberta mom suspects eye cancer in son after reading about it days before
WATCH ABOVE: It's been one week since an Alberta toddler was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer. As Kim Smith explains, a fortunate incident led to it being caught early. – Nov 8, 2020

An 18-month-old boy from Hinton, Alta., had emergency surgery at the SickKids Hospital in Toronto on Friday to remove his right eye after his mom suspected he had eye cancer.

Teresa LaFrance said she happened to read a story out of the U.S. only two weeks ago, about a child with eye cancer when she noticed a warning sign in her own son.

“He just looked at me and I kind of caught this flash of this white thing or white glow in his pupil,” LaFrance said via Zoom from Toronto on Sunday.

“Because of that article I had read (three days prior), I figured I should take it seriously.”

LaFrance said she made Carson an eye appointment and managed to get in early due to a cancellation. That same evening, a specialist called her and requested to immediately see Carson via video.

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Carson then saw the ophthalmologist in Edmonton on Monday Nov. 2 where he was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma.

“It was scary,” LaFrance said. “It wasn’t shocking to me because I think I already had it in my head. I think it shocked my husband a little more that it was cancer.

Carson LaFrance was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer after his mother read an article and noticed he had signs of it.
Carson LaFrance was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer after his mother read an article and noticed he had signs of it. Supplied

Carson and his parents flew to Toronto for the surgery on Friday. His right eye was removed, while three small tumours in his left eye were treated with a laser.

“The prognosis is that because the tumours are small, and if we keep on top of it, he should have 20/20 vision in the left eye,” LaFrance said.

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Read more: Family of Alberta baby with eye cancer is no stranger to devastating diagnoses

Teresa and Carson LaFrance.
Teresa and Carson LaFrance. Supplied

On Saturday, the bandage over Carson’s eye was removed and by Sunday he was running around and playing.

“When he came out of the anesthetic he was pretty out of it for most of the day. That’s the hardest to see when they’re not feeling well,” LaFrance said. “It’s amazing how resilient little children are.”

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 80 Canadian children were diagnosed with retinoblastoma from 2012 to 2016.

LaFrance said the cancer was caught early enough that it hasn’t spread to any other part of Carson’s body.

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LaFrance and her husband Denis have two other children, aged three and five. She said the support from the community has been overwhelming.

Family friends set up a GoFundMe and as of Sunday afternoon more than $16,000 has been raised.

“It’s been really humbling. Amazing how much people have stepped up.”

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