Pregnancy Articles

UPDATED: Baby's Cancer Detected via E-mail

Photo on BabyFit Page Led to Detection of Eye Tumor

Baby Rowan is doing well, says her mother. Read on for the full story, including details of her recovery.

More than a year ago, Madeline "Maddie" Robb and Megan Santos met online in the BabyFit Due Date Club for August 2007. They talked frequently about pregnancy, motherhood and life in general, and though they lived on different continents, the two quickly became friends. The women coincidentally delivered their daughters on the same day: Lilith Mary to Maddie in England and Rowan Margaret to Megan in the United States. After the girls' birth, on August 20, 2007, the moms were drawn even closer together.

While the women shared stories, questions and concerns about motherhood, they never imagined their friendship would possibly save the life of one of their little girls.

Almost a year after the girls were born, in early August 2008, Megan noticed that her daughter Rowan's eyes were two different colors. She shared those concerns with a BabyFit message group, and Maddie suggested she post a picture of Rowan on her BabyPage (her personal page on BabyFit) because many of the women were interested. When Maddie saw the picture, it sparked a memory of a news article she had read a few years ago. The word 'cancer' also sprang to mind.

She was obviously quite concerned and decided to do more research. After further research, she decided to send Megan a private message via the BabyFit email system. She shared a link to a website with further information. While not wanting to scare Megan, Maddie did want her to know that she needed to get Rowan to the doctor.

Megan, whose family had recently moved to Florida, immediately made an appointment for Rowan. After being referred to a specialist and enduring a litany of tests, Rowan was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. Rowan was seen by a pediatrician on a regular basis, but many times the symptoms of retinoblastoma goes undetected. The telltale discoloration of her eye was visible only in photographs.

Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor that grows in the retina of the eye and affects one in every 15,000 to 30,000 babies born in the US.

Rowan had laser treatment to reduce the tumor and responded well to chemotherapy. She did, however, lose an eye.

Her mother, Megan, shared this update with BabyFit in February 2009: "Well it has been a long hard road, but we find ourselves on the other side of treatment now. Rowan just got her first "all clear" post chemotherapy and goes for her first MRI after enucleation this month. It is all been a whirlwind.

She is doing great! Every day she amazes me more and more. Her hair has finally ceased falling out and I actually think more fuzz is growing. We are working on getting her to wear glasses to protect her good eye, but so far, she hates them. Her custom prosthesis is going to be made by her March appt. so we look forward to that. Her prosthesis now looks amazing even though it isn't a match to her right eye (you really have to look hard to tell which is which!)

Her follow up examinations will continue until she is 7 or so but with each all clear, we get more time between appointments. I can't wait till it is only once or twice a year!"

Inside Edition recently did an update on the story, too: Watch the video!

The Today Show featured this story in 2008.

Megan's BabyPage

Maddie's BabyPage
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About The Author

Tanya Jolliffe
Tanya earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition and has more than 15 years of nutrition counseling experience. She has worked with clients in such areas as prenatal nutrition, general family nutrition and therapeutic nutrition in end-stage organ disease.

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