Nicola Sharp, a pediatric nurse, was viewing photos that a friend took on Facebook. One of those was a picture of two-and-a-half year old Grace Freeman. Sharp noted that the picture, taken with a flash, showed an unusual white reflection in her left eye. Knowing that this could be a possible sign of cancer, she alerted the toddlers’ mother, Michelle, immediately.
Soon thereafter, Grace was diagnosed with a retinoblastoma, a malignancy of the retina that usually occurs in young children (under six years of age) and is hereditary in nature. It generally affects one eye and is often detected by the phenomenon called the “cat’s-eye reflex”. This is a white or yellow reflection of the pupil, instead of the normal ‘red eye’ seen in flash photos. Many times this is the only detectable sign. Retinoblastoma is easily treatable in the early stages, but left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body and be terminal.
Fortunately for Grace, her disease was detected early before metastasis to other areas of her body, although she did lose the vision in her left eye. Grace’s mother says, “There were no signs that Grace had any problems with her eyes and we would never have known without her [Sharp].”
Nicola Sharp is very aptly named, she is one sharp nurse. Without her education and keen observational skills, along with Facebook, events could have played out very heartbreakingly different. Michelle Freeman, says of Sharp, “there is no doubt in my mind that Nicola saved Grace’s life.”