- A man was diagnosed with brain cancer after he got blurry vision and went to an optician.
- The optician found warning signs in the back of his eye, which can be caused by a tumor.
- Doctors diagnosed Matt Voice with brain cancer, and he had urgent surgery to remove 70% of the tumor.
A man who has brain cancer said that an appointment with an optician saved his life.
Matt Voice, 40, a former mechanic from the UK, experienced headaches and dizziness for seven years from the age of 32.
In April 2020, Voice’s headaches became excruciating, he began collapsing unexpectedly, and “black orbs” tarnished his vision. He had one episode, while driving, when he felt sick and his vision became so blurry that he had to pull over.
“I started suffering seizures and the light would go out in my eyes. It was horrible for my children — Mason, 11, and Darcy, 15 — to witness,” he told the UK news agency SWNS.
Voice said that doctors thought that his blackouts and vision changes were caused by problems with his blood pressure.
However, as his eyesight got worse, Voice sought an optician appointment, which nearly got canceled due to COVID restrictions at the time.
“But I pushed to go,” he said.
During the appointment, the eye doctor found warning signs that he could have a tumor or brain bleed.
Gliomas cause symptoms like 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 a brain cancer, called an astrocytoma, which arises from the cells that surround the 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 a glioma. Around 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 tumor of the brain or spinal cord 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 occur slowly and be subtle, include: headaches, seizures, personality changes, weakness in the arms, face, or leg, and problems with speech. They can also cause: vomiting, vision loss, and dizziness, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Voice said: “I’m just glad I went to the opticians when I did — otherwise I don’t think I’d be here for my children.”
Voice had surgery to remove part of the tumor that was the size of a fist
In July 2020, Voice underwent surgery to remove 70% of the tumor on the right side. He then had intensive radiotherapy for 6 weeks, followed by three chemotherapy sessions until January 2021 when he could no longer tolerate it.
“I lost all my hair, and I could see the children looking at me differently,” he said.
Though his cancer has been controlled, Voice has short term memory loss and mobility problems, which means he can no longer work as a mechanic, uses a stair lift, and lives with his mom, who is a part-time nurse.
He is waiting for the results of an MRI scan to see if his tumor has grown.
“I just have to pray it hasn’t each time,” he said.