A mum has told how she discovered her son’s brain tumour – by looking into his EYES.
Teresa Marks, 49, had a “gut feeling” that son James, 17, was seriously ill when his “bright and sparkly” blue eyes glazed over.
She took him to an optician who spotted that there was pressure on his brain and advised them to go straight to hospital.
Scans later revealed that a rare cancerous tumour the size of a GOLF BALL with a cyst attached to it spread through his brain stem, which controls breathing and heart rate.
Teresa’s discovery stunned medics, with an oncologist at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) telling her: “You should be a neurosurgeon.”
Tragically, doctors said they cannot perform brain surgery on James due to the location of the tumour.
His condition is terminal and doctors cannot predict how long the youngster, who is autistic, will live for.
But Teresa believes that, had it not been for her mother’s instinct, his cancer would not yet have been detected.
She is now desperately searching for a cure and is appealing for any medical experts who might be able to help to contact her.
The full-time mum, formerly a personal assistant and beauty therapist, of Bushey, Herts., said: “I went to wake James up and he said, ‘I’m tired mum.’
“Later on that day I looked at him and all of a sudden I just picked up the phone and said, ‘There is something wrong with his eyes.’
“I could see something but it was beyond his eyes. I thought, ‘There’s something not right here.’ There was something sinister going on.
“To anyone else he would have looked the same but it’s almost like I could see something – I could see the pressure and tension.
“Usually his eyes are bright and sparkly but I could just detect a tension and a pressure there, a real strain.
“I took him to Specsavers so he could have an eye test and they told us to go to the hospital.”
Teresa rushed James to Watford Hospital on Tuesday, January 10 where he had an MRI scan before returning home. Within half an hour, she received a call.
She said: “They said to me, ‘We are really sorry,’ and I said, ‘What is it?’ They said it was a brain tumour. It’s hazy from then on.
“If I hadn’t have looked at his eyes at that point and insisted that they take him for an eye test, he never would have been diagnosed. Nobody would know.”
James was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare type of brain tumour which is inoperable as it diffuses throughout the brain-stem.
It usually affects younger children and no patient has every survived. Less than one per cent of those who have it survive longer than five years after it’s detected.
Last week, Teresa took James to see a paediatric oncologist at University College London Hospital.
She said: “He explained why it’s not possible to operate and he then said to me, ‘Why are you here?’
“I said, ‘My son has a brain tumour,’ but he wanted to know how we had got there. I said, ‘I looked at him one day and I could see the pressure on his brain.’
“He looked at me and held my hand and said ‘I am a highly skilled, highly trained doctor. I have been studying your son’s face for 20 minutes. It has taken me all of my experiences and my years or training and I can detect a slightly, very subtle difference in some of the lines on James’s face. You have to have an expert eye to see that’.
“I just said, ‘It’s my job, he’s my child, every mum has that ability.’ And he said, ‘No, they don’t’.
“He was amazed. He said, ‘You should be a neurosurgeon because you’re probably one of the smartest women I have ever met’.
“I think all mothers, if they love their children, have that ability.”
James is now awaiting a biopsy which will give a better indication of the aggressiveness of the cancer.
Teresa said: “He is the most amazing child on the planet. I can’t put into words how much he means to me.
“I want his story to get out there for the world to see because I want someone to see it who might be able to help him.
“I don’t know where to go for help but he is going to have to be a medical miracle. I just need someone to save my child.”
A UCLH spokesperson said: “Occasionally, a parent or a teacher may notice minor changes in a child’s school performance (writing, reading or general health) or a new physical abnormality.
“This will prompt them to seek medical advice which may lead to investigations, such as a scan, which reveals the brain tumour.”
To donate to Teresa’s appeal to fund treatment for James, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/James-Marks1999