Optometrist's alert leads to life-saving brain tumour discovery for Daventry schoolboy

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When 11-year-old Levi Housley started suffering from debilitating headaches, his mum’s decision to get him checked out by a Daventry opticians could well have saved his life.

Alarm bells rang for optometrists at Specsavers in the Regal Centre after Levi’s eye examination flagged up some concerning signs and they referred him and his mum, Megan, urgently to Northampton Hospital’s eye casualty clinic.

Later that same day, the pair had been transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where a surgeon finally told Megan her son had a brain tumour and would need surgery and follow-up treatment.

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‘Until then I had no idea it was a tumour because we were told at Northampton he had fluid on the brain and a blockage,’ says Megan. ‘When we were finally told about the tumour, it was just gut-wrenching.

Levi with his mum, Megan.Levi with his mum, Megan.
Levi with his mum, Megan.

‘I am beyond thankful to the team at Specsavers Daventry for seeing Levi and then referring him to hospital. I dread to think what could have happened if we hadn’t gone for that appointment,’ says Megan, a single mum to Levi.

Unfortunately, there was worse news to follow when a biopsy confirmed the tumour was malignant. Levi began his first round of chemotherapy on his 12th birthday, followed by three more in the months to come.

He also had to travel up to yet another hospital – this time in Manchester – for five weeks of proton beam therapy which precisely targets the tumour, reducing the damage to surrounding healthy tissues and vital organs.

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In between all that, Levi had to endure several MRI scans, a blood transfusion, a lumbar puncture, as well as having a Hickman line put into his chest, which allows long-term access into the body for chemotherapy and other treatments.

Levi with his mum in hospital during treatmentLevi with his mum in hospital during treatment
Levi with his mum in hospital during treatment

‘He was amazing through it all,’ says Megan. ‘The staff at Nottingham said they were really impressed with how he was dealing with it; he was really brave.

‘Before the final round of chemo, Levi had another MRI which showed that the tumour was shrinking,’ says Megan. ‘We’ve now been told the tumour is still there but it has calcified and become what they call a non-active tumour.’

The other positive news was that the tumour in the pineal gland of Levi’s brain was identified as a rare localised intracranial germinoma, which means it doesn’t spread beyond the initial affected area.

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Since treatment ended, Levi has managed to return to school to see his friends for a few hours and is hoping to go back for longer soon. ‘He gets tired very easily but he’s so bored and desperate to get back to school and see his friends,’ says Megan.

Levi rings the bell in hospital for the end of his treatmentLevi rings the bell in hospital for the end of his treatment
Levi rings the bell in hospital for the end of his treatment

‘It has been a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. What I would say to other parents is that if your child is complaining about headaches, visual problems or light sensitivity, go straight to your optician to get it checked out.

‘I am so grateful I made that decision and the team at Specsavers Daventry were absolutely brilliant. I can’t thank them enough for their prompt action referring Levi to hospital in the first place – I have no doubt it probably saved his life.’

Specsavers Daventry ophthalmic director Satvinder Singh Soomal says: ‘Because Levi had been to us before for eye examinations, we have previous baseline data to compare with our results from that day and that comparison raised the alarm that something had changed. It also stemmed from a good conversation with Levi and his mum to hear about his symptoms.

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‘This case shows how important it is for people to have their eyes checked on a regular basis and sooner if they feel something is not right. The child's eye health as well as vision is checked on all eye examinations. Being able to see clearly is incredibly important to your child’s overall development.’

Satvinder has been visiting schools in the Northamptonshire area, talking to both teachers and children, about the importance of regular eye health checks and visual concerns. ‘I have done training sessions so that teachers and support teams know what to do if they come across any visual concerns. This can range from how the child is concentrating in class and how they are reading to how they interact with friends and how they play. In fact, about 80% of what is taught in school is presented visually.

‘Being able to see clearly is therefore incredibly important in your child's overall development. So, it’s not surprising that we take your child's eyesight seriously. I also remind them that children in full time education under the age of 18 are entitled to have their eyes examined for free under NHS guidelines.’

or more information or to arrange an appointment, visit 5 Regal Centre, Daventry, NTH, NN11 4DR, telephone 01327 879566 or visit www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/daventry

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