A mum who thought her daughter’s unusual behaviour was “lockdown anxiety” told of her horror after a routine eye test revealed she actually had a golf ball sized brain tumour.
Kelly Morris, noticed eight-year-old Hollie becoming distant and detached in April – but put it down to the youngster struggling with the government-imposed restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But over the next month the schoolgirl was also struck by bouts of sickness, dizziness and a suspected lazy eye.
Worried Kelly took her for a check-up at her local Specsacers.
Less than 24 hours later, Holllie was on the operating table having a benign brain tumour removed.
Kelly, 39, who is also mum to Charlie, 14, said: “Hollie wasn’t acting herself at all. She didn’t want to get dressed, she’d stay in bed all day and was totally detached – but I genuinely put it down to lockdown anxiety.
“If it wasn’t for that eye test, who knows where we’d be? The doctor told me if it had been even a few days longer, she might not be with us now.”
“As soon as medics asked if there’d be any changes in Hollie’s behaviour, it all made sense. It wasn’t lockdown – it was a tumour pushing down on the back of her brain.”
Hollie began acting strangely after the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March.
Kelly, of Leigh, Greater Manchester, said she refused to get out of bed and cried at the thought of being away from home.
The worried primary school support worker assumed it was anxiety then, when she developed headaches and starting vomiting, thought it might be hayfever or a sickness bug.
At the end of May, when lockdown measures eased to allow people to meet outdoors in groups of up to six, Kelly had a catch up with her parents, delivery driver Mark, 59, and food packager Kath, 58, in her front garden.
Kath spotted something unusual about her granddaughter’s appearance, pointing out that her left eye was turning inwards.
Over the next couple of days, Hollie also started experiencing dizzy spells and was struggling to keep her balance.
Kelly booked an appointment at their local Specsavers, where Hollie had her last check-up in November 2019.
The optician who examined her spotted there was a problem, indicated by photos showing pressure at the back of her eye.
The photos were sent to Leigh Infirmary for further inspection and less than three hours later, Kelly received a call urging her to take Hollie straight to Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary.
A CT scan, which revealed a golf ball sized tumour at the base of her skull.
Less than 24 hours after she had walked in to the opticians, Hollie was at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital having a life-saving operation.
Making a remarkable recovering, Hollie was up and walking around within three days, and was discharged after five.
Two days later, a biopsy that had been taken of the tumour after it was removed confirmed that it was benign.
Hollie will have MRI scans every three months for the next year to check for regrowth, then every six months for a further four years.
Kelly said: “There’s a chance the tumour could come back, but you can’t focus on that.
“Hollie been so brave through this whole ordeal and, thanks to the NHS, we’re in an amazing position to face whatever comes our way.
“She’s bounced right back – she’s like she was before lockdown.
“The other day she was video calling friends and she let out a real belly laugh – it was music to my ears. She’s a happy young girl again.”
Rumit Patel, store director at Specsavers Leigh who saw Hollie said: “Hollie and her mum are both amazing. They’ve since come back into store to see me with some cakes and it was wonderful to see them both – Hollie’s eye is completely back to normal.
“If anyone is worried something might be wrong – even if you’re not sure it’s related to eyes – please get in touch with an optician.”