Lucky Amber Carter went to her optician for a routine eye test and was rushed off for life-saving surgery – to remove a deadly brain tumour the size of an orange.
Amber, 23, booked the £32 appointment on the advice of her GP after she suffered months of crippling headaches and sickness and a weakness in her right arm.
She feared she might have to wear glasses – but within 24 hours had an emergency brain operation to save her life.
Optometrist Anna Lewin found that her optic nerves were swollen and gave her an urgent referral straight to hospital.
Amber, assistant manager at a perfume shop, was given CAT and MRI scans which revealed the terrifying tumour on the right side of her brain.
An ambulance then sped her from the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Somerset, to the specialist centre at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital.
There she underwent a nine-hour operation, which included shaving away part of her brain, because the tumour had grown so big.
The growth was found to be benign and three months later Amber is now recovering at home in Chippenham, Wilts.
She said: “I was having really bad headaches and sickness last summer and my right arm started to get weak.
“I was in so much pain and feeling really tired all the time and some days I couldn’t get out of bed.
“I’d been to the doctor several times but nothing was getting done so I changed my GP and the new one suggested I went for an eye test.
“At that time my biggest concern was that I might have to wear glasses but in the end it saved my life.
“The optometrist noticed that both my optic nerves were swollen and rang the hospital in Bath for an appointment within two hours and everything happened so fast from then.”
Amber’s boyfriend Will Tunnicliffe , 20, accompanied her in the ambulance to Bristol.
She added: “I didn’t really know what was going on at that stage, but everyone was fussing over me.
“I had a second MRI scan in Bristol and that confirmed the tumour and I was admitted for surgery the next day.
“When the surgeon brought my scan picture up it was under his arm but I could see how big it was and it freaked me out.
“They compared it to the size of a small orange, about 5cm across. I really thought that was it for me then.”
Blonde Amber, who studied performing arts at college, added: “They actually shaved part of my brain away because the tumour had grown so big.
“They said it was slow-growing and I could have had it for a while.”
Amber woke from the operation last October with no feeling on her right side and for several weeks needed a wheelchair to get around.
She can now walk unaided for short distances and hopes to return to work in a couple of months’ time.
Amber has physiotherapy three times a week and has yet to regain full use of the right side of her body.
Doctors have told her the tumour was benign and they are confident all traces of it have been removed.
Amber said: “They don’t know if I’ll get all the sensation back, but I’d rather have this weakness and know they got it all out.
“I’m so grateful to the optician. If I hadn’t made that appointment I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
Optometrist Anna, 33, of Haine & Smith (corr) in Chippenham, said: “I could see that her optic nerves were swollen in both eyes and that can indicate the presence of a tumour.
“She needed to be checked immediately at hospital and I rang them myself and got her in.
“She was completely shocked to find she’d got a brain tumour – her biggest fear when she arrived was that she might have to wear glasses.
“I would always urge anyone suffering similar symptoms to have an eye test as a precaution.”
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