A mother has detailed how a routine eye test saved her 14-year-old daughter’s life after she was discovered with a brain tumour.
For several weeks, Molly Holman, from Herefordshire, had been feeling lethargic, clumsy and complaining of headaches.
But his mother, Naomi Holman, ruled out his symptoms being caused by hormones, a recent heat spell and phone use.
It wasn’t until Molly saw her GP in May this year for an ingrown toenail that the doctor detected inflammation at the back of her eye, which she thought might have been caused by the infection in her foot.
However, after a routine trip to have Molly’s eyes examined, doctors discovered she had a brain tumor behind her optic nerve. Although the teenager has already had the tumor removed, her vision is limited.
Mrs Holman is now urging others to ensure they have had a recent eye test, warning that Molly’s case could have been “catastrophic” if caught later.
For several weeks, Molly from Herefordshire, pictured with her mother Naomi Holman and father Nigel, felt lethargic, clumsy and complained of headaches. But these symptoms of a brain tumor were dismissed at first, until he had an eye exam.
Only a few weeks passed between Molly’s initial symptoms and her visit to her GP, who suggested she visit her optician.
His doctor thought his clumsiness and headaches were a sign that he needed a new prescription for his glasses, and he also noticed some swelling behind his eye.
Molly’s father Nigel took her to see a Vision Express optometrist, where they noticed a lot of swelling behind her optic nerve.
They advised him to take Molly to the local emergency room immediately.
There, he underwent an MRI and a thorough examination of his eyes.
Holman said: “A mix of parental instinct and previous experience working in healthcare told us something wasn’t right as we watched the medical team checking the screens in the consultation room.”
The family was initially told to go home and wait for the results to come back.
But when they got into the car, the consultant called them.
The doctor ushered them into the family room and told them that Molly had a brain tumor (grade 2 meningioma) and needed to be transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for surgery.
Within 48 hours of doctors finding a brain tumor, Molly undergoes two surgeries to remove the grade 2 meningioma. It caused a large amount of damage to Molly’s optic nerve, resulting in irreparable damage to her view. Now her parents Naomi and Nigel Holman, pictured in her hospital bed, are helping her with her life-changing vision loss.
Meningioma is one of the most common types of brain tumors, accounting for around a quarter of all those detected in the UK and US. It begins in the layers of tissue, known as the meninges, that cover and support the brain and spinal cord.
They are non-cancerous (Grade 1), atypical, meaning they can become cancerous at some point (Grade 2) or cancerous (Grade 3).
Headaches, seizures, speech and vision problems, as well as difficulty maintaining balance and weakness in the arms and legs are common signs of the tumor.
About six in 10 people diagnosed survive for 10 years after the cancer is detected.
Just 48 hours after her diagnosis, Molly underwent her first surgery to remove the tumor and a second surgery a month later.
What is a meningioma and what are the symptoms?
Meningiomas are tumors that begin in the layers of tissue (meninges) that cover the brain and spinal cord.
Most meningiomas are not cancerous.
The meninges are membranes that support and protect the brain and spinal cord.
It is the most common type of benign brain tumor diagnosed in the UK.
- Seizures (seizures)
- Weakness in your arms or legs.
- Loss of sight
- Hearing loss
Source: Cancer Research
Each surgery lasted several hours and he had to spend some time in the intensive care unit after each operation.
Due to its position, the tumor still caused significant damage to his vision.
Mrs Homan said: “Molly’s tumor was almost a quarter the size of her brain, and its growth not only had a significant impact on her optic nerve but was dangerously close to her brainstem, making it difficult to remove.
“If we hadn’t discovered it sooner, the impact on her could have been catastrophic.”
Molly underwent several procedures over the course of two months to remove the tumor and is now considered tumor-free.
His meningioma caused enormous damage to his optic nerve, resulting in irreparable damage to his vision.
His visual impairment is considered severe, with almost zero vision in the left eye and 20 percent in the right.
This has meant that he has lost considerable time in the classroom in the run-up to the start of his GCSE.
“She now needs qualified support to help her learn not just a curriculum but also a way of coping with life in general,” says Mrs Holman.
He added: ‘So that you can navigate successfully; Physically, emotionally and educationally, her new world, this should preferably take place in a specialized school setting because many of the basic daily tasks she requires to live independently are best learned on-site, in a task-driven environment. ‘
Molly now receives regular consultations with both the hospital team and Vision Express, who are working to prescribe her new glasses to help improve her remaining vision.
‘We have a long way to go and Molly is now classed as severely visually impaired. “She has lost almost all sight in her left eye and has significant damage to her right, all of which is a small price to pay to still have her with us,” says Mrs Holman.
Mrs Holman said all her friends and family have booked eye tests and stresses that it is an appointment not to be missed.
Dan McGhee, director of clinical services at Vision Express, said: ‘Molly’s example highlights the importance of regular eye checks and getting them checked when there are any symptoms.
‘As optometrists, we are better trained and equipped than ever to perform a very comprehensive eye test to detect and monitor serious eye and health conditions; as well as your entertainment needs.’