A six-year-old diagnosed with a migraine by doctors visited an optician who discovered a brain tumour the size of an orange – which would have killed her within a week.
Darcey Fletcher was sent home by staff at Barnsley Hospital after mum Chrissy told them Darcey had been suffering severe headaches.
But concerned Chrissy took her daughter to the optician’s the next day where the optician gave the mum a list of criteria for tumours – and she realised Darcey had seven of the eight.
The terrified mum quickly rang her husband’s friend who was a surgeon at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and he told the family to rush Darcey straight there.
Within 40 minutes of being at the hospital, Darcey was taken into surgery to have the tumour – the size of a large orange – removed.
Doctors at the hospital told the parents Darcey would have been dead within a week if the tumour hadn’t been found.
Chrissy said: “Darcey had been ill for about a week in November last year and we thought it was a virus. I took her to the doctors because it was not going away and they said it could be migraines or a virus. They gave her tablets for migraines.
“We left it for about five days but she was still waking up screaming in pain. I got the doctor out on the Friday and he said to go to Barnsley Hospital.”
Chrissy originally took Darcey to Barnsley Hospital where, after being seen by a student doctor, Darcey was referred to a senior colleague. The doctor carried out tests on the youngster, but decided not to give Darcey a scan.
Chrissy said: “He gave her a check-up and was banging her knees. She had to walk up and down and do other tests but they still thought it was a virus or something to do with migraines. The doctor said ‘I know what you are going to ask, you are going to ask for a scan, but she doesn’t need one’.”
Chrissy was told to get Darcey’s eyes tested and to come back in a month if the headaches persisted.
Darcey was taken to Auckland Opticians, in Skelmanthorpe, West Yorkshire, the next morning, where the optician gave Chrissy a leaflet on brain tumours.
Relieved Chrissy, who is mum to Lewis, 16, Luke, 13, and Brooke, 11, said: “The tumour was too low down to see but they gave me a leaflet and Darcey ticked every box apart from epilepsy.”
Chrissy and worried dad Ian called a family friend, who works as a consultant in Sheffield, who told the family to take Darcey to hospital straight away.
Chrissy added: “We got out of the optician’s at 10.15am and my husband rang his friend who is a surgeon and he said to take Darcey straight to hospital.”
Within 40 minutes, doctors at Sheffield Children’s Hospital carried out a MRI scan on Darcey, where they discovered the brain tumour and prepped her for surgery.
Darcey was taken into surgery to have fluid drained from her brain but after the fluid came back overnight, surgeons brought forward her planned operation and removed the tumour.
Chrissy said: “It was absolutely crazy. They said if I hadn’t brought her in she would have been dead within a week.”
Darcey stayed in hospital for 11 days and was able to go home in time for Christmas. Doctor are confident she will make a full recovery.
The six-year-old is now back in school but needs to go back for a scan in March to make sure the tumour has not spread to her spine.
Chrissy, of Clayton West, Huddersfield, said: “I just cannot thank the optician enough. I took her a bunch of flowers but it doesn’t seem enough.”