A mum has told how she was diagnosed with a brain tumour after her husband and children noticed symptoms in her eye while taking pictures.
Mum-of-three Jane, 46, discovered she had a 3cm tumour last November after suffering from severe eye spasms for around two years.
She had been unable to see her GP about the issue during the pandemic and wearing face masks meant the spasms in her face had gone unnoticed.
However, her husband and children had started to notice that her eye was closed over in pictures - something she had assumed was due to tiredness or was caused by the flash of the camera.
Jane, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, explained: “The eye spasms had been happening on and off for the last two years.
“My eye had also gradually begun to close which I hadn’t had checked out by the GP due to the pandemic.
“My husband and children had commented on it when they saw me in photos but we just assumed that I was tired or maybe it had been caused by the flash."
‘I feel powerless’
Jane said her eye spasms were spotted by her optician during a routine eye examination, and she was later sent for an MRI scan.
Medics then found the 3cm low grade meningioma on her brain stem which was lying on the optical nerve. It had wrapped itself around the carotid artery causing stenosis (narrowing) by around 50%, meaning her right eye cannot fully open. It also significantly increases her chances of having a stroke in the future by restricting blood supply.
In the months leading up to her diagnosis, the 46-year-old said she had been feeling tired and more irritable than usual, and credited her optician with saving her life.
She said: “I am very grateful to my optician as I honestly think that she saved my life.
“My family have all been amazingly supportive. My husband simply couldn’t believe what he was hearing when I told him.
“My mother was the last person I told as I wanted to protect her from the harsh reality of it as I knew she would be upset too. I tried to be strong for her but it was incredibly difficult to say the words ‘I have a brain tumour’ to her.”
Jane added: “I often feel like my hands are tied because no operation can remove my tumour. I can’t do anything about it and I feel powerless. This is scary, frustrating and it also occasionally makes me angry too.
“It’s hard not to think why me sometimes as well. It is a major life change and such a big blow to the system.
“I do sometimes also feel strong and I say to myself that it will be OK, that I will be able to keep going and that I can be strong for my family as I know that they need me by their side to support them too.
“I hope and pray that, one day in the future, a treatment option will be found so that my tumour can be removed as I know that neurosurgeons are lifesavers. Walking around with a brain tumour in your head is a crazy and colossal feeling but I just have to accept it.”
Lorcan Butler, optical engagement manager for The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “We are hugely grateful to Jane and her family for their continued support and their desire to raise awareness during National Eye Health Week.
“The Brain Tumour Charity are delighted to be collaborating with the organisers once again in this fantastic campaign.
“In a busy hectic lifestyle most of us take our eyes for granted and only give them only a second thought once we start to experience problems with the most precious sense - sight. We are only blessed with one pair in our lifetime, so it’s vital that we all learn how to take care of them.
“General Health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and many more conditions can be detected and observed during a routine eye examination.”