- A man was diagnosed with brain cancer after he had blurred vision and went to an optician.
- The optician found warning signs in the back of his eye that could be caused by a tumor.
- Doctors diagnosed Matt Voice with brain cancer and he underwent emergency surgery to remove 70% of the tumor.
A man with brain cancer said an appointment with an optician saved his life.
Matt Voice, 40, a former engineer from the UK, experienced headaches and dizziness for seven years from the age of 32.
In April 2020, Voice’s headaches became excruciating, he started collapsing unexpectedly, and “black orbs” clouded his vision. He had an episode while driving when he felt sick and his vision became so blurry that he had to pull over.
“I started having seizures and the light was going out in my eyes. It was horrible for my children – Mason, 11, and Darcy, 15 – to see,” she told UK news agency SWNS.
The Voice said doctors believed the blackout and changes in his vision were caused by problems with his blood pressure.
However, as his vision worsened, Voice sought an optician’s appointment, which was nearly canceled due to the COVID restrictions at the time.
“But I pressed on,” he said.
During the appointment, the eye doctor found warning signs that she could have a tumor or brain bleed.
Gliomas cause symptoms such as vomiting by pressing on the brain
The optician referred Voice to an eye clinic at a local hospital, and in May 2020 doctors diagnosed him with brain cancer, called astrocytoma, which arises from the cells that surround nerve cells in the brain.
“I was told it was on the left and right side of my brain and that it would become aggressive,” Voice said.
Astrocytomas are a type of brain cancer called glioma. About 33% of brain cancers are gliomas, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Brain cancers are rare, and the chance that a person in the US will develop a malignant brain or spinal cord tumor in their lifetime is less than 1%, according to the American Cancer Society.
Gliomas cause symptoms by pressing on the brain or spinal cord. The most common symptoms, which can come on slowly and be subtle, include: headaches, seizures, personality changes, weakness in the arms, face or legs, and speech problems. They can also cause: vomiting, vision loss and dizziness, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Voice said: “I’m glad I went to the opticians when I did — otherwise I don’t think I’d be here for my kids.”
Voice had surgery to remove part of the fist-sized tumor
In July 2020, Voice underwent surgery to remove 70% of the tumor on her right side. He then had intensive radiotherapy for 6 weeks, followed by three sessions of chemotherapy until January 2021, when he could no longer tolerate it.
“I lost all my hair and I could see the kids looking at me differently,” she said.
Although his cancer has been controlled, Voice has short-term memory loss and mobility problems, meaning he can no longer work as a mechanic, uses a stairlift and lives with his mother, who is a part-time nurse.
He is awaiting MRI results to see if his tumor has grown.
“I just have to pray that it hasn’t happened every time,” he said.