Aurelio’s Glow Story

Diagnosis: Retinoblastoma

My name is Jimena Garrido.  My husband José and I live in Lima, Peru and married in 2017.  We wished for children but decided to wait a few years to start our family. We were thrilled when our first child, Aurelio, was born in February of 2021.  He was  a beautiful baby boy, perfect in every way.  Our life was full and happy and “normal”.

However, just before Aurelio’s second birthday, our world turned upside down.

This is when my husband, José and I, first noticed something different in Aurelio’s eye.  While on the changing table, when the light hit his eye in just the right way, his pupil became a different color.  It almost looked like a glow. We found this odd, but didn’t pay much attention to this initial sign.  

About a month passed by.  Then, while bathing Aurelio, my husband noticed this strange glow again and in the same eye.  With this second occurrence, we both became worried.  My husband covered Aurelio’s glowing eye and there was no obvious reaction in his behavior.  Then he covered Aurelio’s right “non-glowing” eye and he immediately became agitated.  We knew then that Aurelio  couldn’t see out of his left eye.  We needed to find answers. 

We took Aurelio to the Emergency Room at the hospital.  Here the doctor was able to see the Glow that we had been noticing.  Unsure of the cause, we were referred to an ophthalmologist for further testing.  The ophthalmologist did a thorough exam and told us Aurelio either had a tumor (Retinoblastoma) or a cataract that was causing his vision loss.  We were then sent to a retinal specialist for more answers.

The retina specialist performed an Exam Under Anesthesia (EUA) where the cataract was ruled out and it was determined that Aurelio, in fact, had Retinoblastoma.  He had a Grade D tumor in his left eye and his vision was 80% compromised.  The doctors recommended having his compromised eye enucleated.  Aurelio’s right eye was healthy.  

We talked to many doctors, in our home of Peru and also in the United States.  Every doctor we consulted with agreed that enucleation was the best option over chemotherapy.  Aurelio’s cancer was very close to his brain.  We did not want to take the chance of it traveling beyond his eye.

We soon met with Dr. Raul Cordero at “Clínica Americana”.  Dr. Cordero was so wonderful, he took time with us and was very sensitive to our questions and concerns.  We felt comfortable in his care.  He is like an angel to our family.  

Aurelio had his surgery and was home the same day.  Soon after we were told that his pathology came back and all of the cancer was removed with surgery – he was cancer free!  This was the very best day of our lives. In the beginning of this year we were given even more wonderful news, Aurelio’s cancer is not genetic!

Aurelio is a warrior and a survivor. He received his prosthetic eye in April 2023 and his life is very active and happy.  He will be thoroughly checked every four months until the age of five to make sure there is no recurrence of his cancer. 

We are so grateful that we not only noticed the early signs of Aurelio’s cancer but insisted on finding answers for them.  We know all too well that had we not searched for these answers, Aurelio’s outcome could have been much different.  We hope that by sharing our journey, other families will become aware of the Glow and bring their children to the care they so urgently need.