A Stockton woman has undergone potentially life-saving surgery after an eye test helped to detect signs of a potentially deadly brain tumour.
Rebekah Jennings suffered migraines while growing up, which doctors believed were caused by hormonal changes. But the 28-year-old knew something wasn’t right when the crippling headaches became more frequent this year.
She says: ‘In the last six months, the migraines became a regular thing. I was extremely fatigued - getting out of bed in the morning felt like I had just ran a marathon.
‘By early May, they were a daily occurrence. The slightest movement made me feel dizzy and soon after, I developed tunnel vision. I thought that I must need my eyes tested, so I phoned by local optician.’
Specsavers stores remained open for urgent and essential eyecareduring the Covid-19 pandemic, so optometrist Ashleigh Dwyerwas able to carry out an eye examination at the Specsavers Stockton store.
Ashleigh says: 'Rebekah’s examination showed signs of papilledema in both eyes, which is when the optic nerve at the back of the eye becomes swollen. This can be an indication of a number of injuries or conditions, one of which is a tumour. So as soon as I found the irregularities, I referred her immediately to James Cook Hospital.’
Rebekah underwent a series of tests, followed by a CT and MRI scan, which confirmed she had a brain tumour on her right frontal lobe which, if left untreated, could have been life threatening. After undergoing surgery on 20 May, the tumour was removed.
Rebekah says: ‘The doctor couldn’t believe that I was still walking around as normal. Basically, my Specsavers appointment saved my life. I couldn’t be any more grateful for how quickly and professionally I was helped and referred on.’
Following surgery, Rebekah was treated for an infection on her brain, undergoing a lumbar puncture to drain a build-up of cerebral fluid. She was discharged on 10 June and now wants to raise awareness of her condition and the importance of seeking prompt treatment.
Rebekah, who works in a care home and volunteers as a girls’ football coach, says: ‘I am looking to raise as much money as possible for the staff at James Cook Ward 24 where I received my life-saving surgery, and also for the Little Princess Trust.
‘I’m shaving my hair off to donate to the trust and have set up a Crowdfunding page for donations. It’s the least I can do to think those who have helped me.
‘It’s all about raising awareness for me now. Before this happened, I led a very busy life and never took time to look after myself. I can’t thank my surgeon and my optician enough for all they have done for me – together they are the reason I am still here to share my story.’
Optician Ashleigh said Rebekah’s story served as a reminder of the huge importance of seeking your optician’s advice if you have any eye issues.
She says: ‘Many people don't realise that a sight test can check for more than just your vision and that it can pick up a vast range of other conditions.’
Specsavers stores in England are now reopen for routine testing. To help manage social distancing, stores are encouraging customers to book an appointment in advance by phone or online via specsavers.co.uk. New hygiene and personal protection measures include restrictions on the number of customers allowed in store at any one time, strict social distancing rules and, where possible, card instead of cash payments.
In line with NHS guidance, Specsavers colleagues will use personal protective equipment (PPE) and all testing equipment and frames will be thoroughly sanitised after each use.
Customers unable to attend a store can still access care and support through Specsavers RemoteCare video and telephone consultation service, and Specsavers Ask The Expert Facebook group, while glasses and contact lenses can be bought online with a current prescription at specsavers.co.uk.
For more information or to book an eye test, call the store on 01642 602020or go to www.specsavers.co.uk
You can donate to Rebekah’s Crowdfunding page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rebekah-jennings