Girl given devastating diagnosis after parents dismissed symptoms as puberty

A teenager was given a devastating diagnosis after her parents put her symptoms down to puberty.

Molly Holman, 14, began complaining of headaches to her parents who had also noticed she appeared “off colour” and “lethargic” but originally put it down to puberty.

After visiting her local GP for an ingrown toenail, Molly mentioned her new symptoms in passing to her doctor who decided to check her eyes.

After spotting some inflammation in the back of her eye, they thought it best she visit her local opticians for a routine eye appointment.

Molly’s father Nigel took her to Vision Express for the appointment, with her Optometrist noticing significant inflammation behind her optic nerve.

They advised Nigel to take Molly to A&E immediately where an MRI scan was performed.

Mum Naomi said: “We were getting ready for school one morning and I spotted Molly had an ingrown toenail, and I thought this may explain her recent clumsiness – so we booked a GP appointment.

“A mix of parental instinct and previous experience working in healthcare told us something wasn’t right as we watched the medical team check the screens in the consulting room.”

The family were told to go home and wait for the results but when they got in the car, they were immediately called back by the consultant.

The family, from Herefordshire, were ushered into the family room where they were told the 14-year-old had a brain tumour.

She was immediately transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for surgery, with her first operation taking place just 48-hours later.

“Molly’s tumour was nearly a quarter of the size of her brain, and its growth not only had a significant impact on her optic nerve but was dangerously close to her brain stem, making it difficult to remove. If we had not discovered it sooner, the impact on her may have been catastrophic”, Naomi said.

Molly underwent several procedures over the course of two months to remove the tumour and is now considered tumour free.

Naomi added: “On the ward, they’d call Molly the Viking Princess because of her warrior attitude, and she had gorgeous red hair which the surgeon refused to shave for the operation. Packing a month’s worth of healing into only a month and is handling this better than all the adults in the room. We’re so proud.”

Molly is now under regular consultation with both her hospital team and Vision Express, who are working to prescribe new glasses to help improve her remaining sight. “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 have her still with us”, Naomi said.

Moving forward, Naomi says her friends and family have all booked eye tests, and she stresses that it’s one appointment you shouldn’t miss. “Without the vigilance and professionalism of the optometrist at Vision Express that day, we may not have known until it was too late.

“They said it was the worst case they’d seen in a 30-year career. Vision Express, together with the superheroes at Birmingham Children’s Hospital have become part of an amazing team for us that no doubt saved our daughter’s life.”

Dan McGhee, Director of Ophthalmics, from Vision Express said: “Molly’s example highlights the importance of both regular eye checks and having your eyes checked when there are any symptoms.

“As Optometrists we are more highly trained and more equipped than ever to perform a very thorough eye test to detect and manage serious eye and health conditions; as well as your spectacle needs.”

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