Ten-year-old Shannon Kilrane was the VIP at Specsavers Rushden official opening on Saturday 16 November.  

The brave youngster cut the ribbon at the newly relocated Specsavers at 48-50 High Street, Rushden – two years on since the store helped diagnose a rare form of cancer on her eyelid. Shannon was joined by the Belcanto choir and face painters with fundraising on the day for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Lifesaving trip to opticians

In 2017, Shannon’s eyelid intermittently would swell up and go back down again.  At first her mum, Michelle, suspected an allergy and so went about changing washing powders etc, but when the problem persisted, she decided to take her to see her regular opticians, Specsavers in Rushden.

Shannon was seen by the store’s optometrist and store director Andrew Darby. After a thorough examination, he found a small lump on one of Shannon’s eyelids and so referred her to see an eye specialist at Kettering General Hospital. From here Shannon was then referred on to the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

‘It was all incredibly scary,’ said Michelle.  ‘No one was able to confirm if it was cancer or not and it wasn’t until the results of the biopsy, just 10 days before Christmas, that we got the news we really dreaded hearing.’

Diagnosis 

The doctors confirmed that Shannon was suffering from Rhabdomyosarcoma – a malignant form of soft tissue cancer. Unable to fully remove the tumour, Shannon had to undergo nine rounds of chemotherapy and was also sent for proton therapy in America. 

‘At that time the therapy wasn’t available here in the UK,’ added Michelle. ‘Fortunately, the NHS funded the trip and the treatment – and so we spent two months in Florida.  It was incredibly scary being in a foreign country with a critically ill child, but the staff were very supportive and to be among so many other families going through a similar situation made it less isolating.’

Eight weeks after returning from the US, Shannon received the all-clear - she’s since been having monthly check-ups at the hospital. 

Brave approach

‘We were immensely proud with how Shannon dealt with this all – she just got on with it,’ commented Michelle. 

‘It really brought home the importance of eye examinations again though – our eldest daughter, Leone, also had a sight-threatening condition, Intracranial hypertension, diagnosed as a result of a sight test with Specsavers when she was eight too. So, we know just how important seeing your optician is - in our case, they helped save one daughter’s sight and the other’s life.’

‘The Kilrane family have been customers for several years now and we admire their attitude and approach, particularly Shannon who was so brave through her illness,’ added Andrew.
‘Stories like Shannon’s and Leone’s are quite rare, but what they do highlight is how an eye examination isn’t just about your vision or specs – and how vital they are to your overall health. We encourage everyone to visit their optician every two years unless they are experiencing any problems like Shannon, in which case they should make an appointment right away.’

Don’t neglect your eyes

The optometrists at Specsavers Rushden have accreditations in glaucoma and minor eye conditions (MECs). It means the store can offer eye health services to help manage a number of eye conditions allowing more people to be treated in store rather than having to go to their GP or hospital. Anyone experiencing symptoms such as pain, redness or flashes of light in their vision can access these services.

All Rushden store information 

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