How do you raise awareness for the causes close to your heart? For Natalie Galarza, mother and public health nurse, her son’s Coats’ Disease diagnosis sent her on a mission to educate others known as #mommaonamission.
Galarza’s son was diagnosed in July after visiting a local theme park. While Natalie’s husband, Ismael, was taking photos of their trip, he noticed “The Glow” in his son’s eyes. Luckily he had read on Facebook about “The Glow” and knew that it could be serious. When Natalie saw the photos she was concerned that it could be Retinoblastoma, a disease she was familiar with due to her training as a nurse.
The family was referred to a retinal specialist who confirmed that their son had Coats’ Disease. The Galarza’s had never heard of this disease and took to the Internet to search for more information. That afternoon they had found Know The Glow® and Jack McGovern’s story.
Their doctors had referred the family to Dr. Toth at Duke University, but were told that it would be a month before they could get in. However, Natalie and her husband read on the Internet early intervention can help save sight, even when their doctors said it was okay to wait, they felt like they had to try everything they could to get their son seen as soon as possible. Using the physician directory listed on the Jack McGovern’s Coats’ Disease Foundation Website, Natalie took a chance and email Dr. Toth directly. Dr. Toth replied to her email directly and scheduled her son with an appointment in 6 days for treatment instead of one month.
Fortunately, the Galarzas spotted “The Glow” and sought prompt diagnosis before the retina detached from the eye. Their son’s vision was 20/100 at diagnosis of Coats’ Disease with early intervention and treatment it is now 20/40 with glasses. Natalie said, “I can’t help but believe that it was early detection plus early treatment that helped save my son’s sight. I feel now I have to pay it forward, my husband, with no medical training, read about “The Glow” on Facebook because someone took the time to post or like a link related to “The Glow.” My husband was the one who noticed the glow on a picture taken with his phone”
To start getting the word out about “The Glow” Natalie looked for opportunities to speak to other parents and nurses in her community. She has presented information about “The Glow” to 34 other nurses in her school district. Hoping to reach a larger audience, she has reached out to the State Nursing department in hopes of providing glow education at a Summer 2016 national school nurses conference. Additionally, Natalie uses weekly social media posts on Sundays to spread awareness #SaveOurSightSunday.
Natalie said, “I just want other kids to have the opportunity that my child had because of our awareness of ‘The Glow.’ As a mom though I will continue to spread Know the Glow’s message because all kids should have the chance to keep their vision. Knowledge is power! If you don’t know the about ‘The Glow’, your child could lose their vision right before your eyes.”
Other parents can get involved by generating greater glow awareness among their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. No matter who you are or what you do there are always opportunities to share your story, spread your message and help others.