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Social media helps mom spot rare cancer in her baby’s eye

A mom who followed her instincts is the reason her daughter is now being treated for cancer in her eye.

It was July 30, Jasmine Martin told “Good Morning America,” when she saw it. Prior to that day, she said, there had been “a small glow” in her daughter Sariyah’s eye. “But that day, it was like a moon.”

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She posted the photo to Facebook looking for advice. Several people commented it could be cancerous.

Martin took her daughter to the pediatrician, who told the Knoxville, Tennessee, mom it was nothing to worry about. But Martin’s instincts told her otherwise.

“It was going to take weeks to get an ophthalmologist appointment,” Martin told “GMA.” So, she said she emailed the photo to a friend who worked at a hospital, who in turn showed it to a doctor.

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“She was taken to St. Jude’s that night,” Martin told “GMA.”

Since then, little Sariyah has been diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is, according to the St. Jude’s web site, a rare form of cancer affecting about 250-300 children each year. It “typically develops in children before 5 years of age. This cancer develops in the retina — the part of the eye that helps a person see color and light. Retinoblastoma may affect one or both eyes. In about two-thirds of all cases only one eye is affected,” the website reads.

There’s been strides forward and steps back for the 17-month-old and her family. Though the toddler was released from the hospital and sent home in late September, there’s cause for concern: a tiny spot in her left eye that had been laser treated has returned. At the same time, the tumor in her right eye, the one with the large glow, is shrinking.

Martin wrote in her most recent Instagram update, “We are so early in this but … days are mentally draining, because you just never know what they are going to find. It’s hard and it’s scary. If I allow myself to really think about it, if something happens to the good eye, then there’s still so many risks with the right eye. It’s a never ending battle of what ifs right now.”

Sariyah is “so happy,” her mom said, “You wouldn’t even know she is going through this,” she said, referring to hospital stays and chemotherapy. “Even when it makes her sick and she has a fever she’s still playing with her siblings,” Martin told “GMA.”

Friends and neighbors have stepped up to help the family through this difficult time, something Martin said has touched her. From meal trains to a car, “there are so many good people in the world,” she told “GMA.”

She’s hopeful sharing her Sariyah’s story, which she does both on Instagram and Facebook. will encourage mothers to follow their instincts when it comes to their

Kentucky governor takes action as state fights becoming next COVID-19 hot spot

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vowed to halt a recent escalation of COVID-19 cases after reporting 17 more coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, marking one of the state’s highest one-day death tolls since the outbreak began earlier this year.



a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women's and Children's Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.


© Bryan Woolston/Reuters, FILE
Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.

“What that shows is we are — in our total case count — in an escalation, meaning last week was more; this week will be more than that, it appears,” Beshear told reporters at a press conference Thursday.

State health officials reported 910 new coronavirus cases on Thursday after shattering records earlier this week, with rural and urban areas seeing massive spikes in new infections. Of the newly reported cases, 146 were children under the age of 18 with the youngest victim being 3 months old.

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Last week the state saw its highest total of new infections reported over a seven-day period, but the governor said the state was on track to top that figure this week.

“When we have a lot of cases, sadly a lot of death follows,” Beshear warned.



a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women's and Children's Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.


© Bryan Woolston/Reuters, FILE
Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.

The 17 coronavirus-related fatalities reported on Thursday followed four COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday.

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The new deaths meant that as of Thursday, a total of 1,191 people had died from the coronavirus in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic. Seniors above the age of 80 account for more than half of those deaths.

Residents between the ages of 20 and 49 account for the bulk of statewide cases, but health officials are urging residents of all ages to take the virus seriously. People in the 20-29 age group appear to have the highest rates of diagnosis, according to state data.

To help combat the spread of the virus during Halloween, Beshear asked parents keep their children away from crowds and to use another approach to traditional trick-or-treating. He and state health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack asked residents to place individually wrapped candy outside on their porches, driveways or tables in lieu of the usual door-to-door trick-or-treating.

“We have put together the best guidance we can for Halloween to be safe. But we can’t do things exactly like we did them before, and we all ought to know that,” Beshear said. “Having a big party right now during COVID puts everybody at risk. Let’s not ruin Halloween for our kids by it spreading a virus that can harm people they love.”

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