Mother celebrates remission as daughter’s weight plummets from mystery illness before eye test reveals tumor

A mother whose daughter lost two and a half pounds due to a disease that baffled doctors is celebrating her teenage diagnosis before a routine eye test revealed a fatal cancerous brain tumor ease.

Primary school teaching assistant Jenna Williams, 38, said she was “extremely grateful” the tumor was discovered after her family endured five months of not knowing why 16-year-old Bethany’s health deteriorated.

Although doctors believed Bethany’s illness was caused by gastritis, the teen’s condition continued to worsen until she needed a wheelchair, but after breaking her glasses, Jenna took Bethany for an eye exam, which revealed A fatal lump.

After being referred to a local hospital, Bethany was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a primary central nervous system tumor, and underwent life-saving surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Since then, Bethany has had 30 proton beam treatments and nine months of chemotherapy and is “happy” to now be in remission.

Jenna lives in Elmswell, Suffolk, with her husband Kevin, 42, a self-employed roofer, and their two children Bethany and seven Freya, 3, told PA Real Life: “It was a really terrible time for us, we spent five months going back and forth to hospital with no idea what was wrong with her.

“I have a feeling this is something more serious than gastritis because no treatment seems to be effective.

“I am so grateful that the eye exam found the tumor and Bethenny was able to get the treatment she needed.

“I hope to raise awareness that eye exams aren’t always just for new glasses, they can also save lives.”

Jenna first noticed something was wrong with her daughter in early January 2021, when Bethany became ill.

She said: “At first we thought it was just a bug in her stomach but she couldn’t seem to get rid of it. Doctors thought it might be gastritis, but five months and multiple doctor appointments later, she still wasn’t feeling well.”

Bethenny lost two and a half stone during her illness, and Jenna recalled how “scary” it was to see the changes in her daughter’s body as she battled the unknown disease.

Jenna said: “When she was admitted to the hospital for a check-up, I had a bit of a breakdown and said it must be serious, but the doctor still thought it was gastritis.”

Bethany’s health deteriorated and she even began using a wheelchair because she was too weak to walk.

In May 2021, Bethany’s glasses broke, and Jenner took Bethany to Specsavers to have her glasses replaced, and once there, the 15-year-old underwent an eye test.

Jenna added: “I was talking about her health and the person said, ‘Well, do you want us to rule out problems with your eyes?'” We said yes. “

After the eye test, the optometrist urged Jenna to take Bethany to hospital and transferred her to West Suffolk Hospital for further testing.

“I didn’t expect it to be this serious, but we went to West Suffolk Hospital and Kevin joined us and they sent Bethany for an MRI,” Jenna said.

An MRI initially showed swelling in Bethany’s brain, but later that day, Jenna and Kevin received further treatment when doctors discovered the root cause of Bethany’s health issues.

Jenna said: “They sat me in a room and told me she had a brain tumor. It was terrible.”

In May 2021, Bethenny’s official diagnosis was confirmed and she was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where she underwent life-saving surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

After the surgery to check the mass, Bethany was told her tumor was cancerous and would require further treatment to stop regrowth.

In London, she received 30 proton beam treatments, followed by nine months of chemotherapy.

In May 2023, Bethany received some good news—she was officially in remission.

While her mother Jenna said the road to recovery will be “long”, the family is delighted Bethenny is now believed to have “no obvious signs of illness”.

The teenager underwent further surgery after chemotherapy paralyzed her vocal cords, but said she was looking forward to “enjoying” life again.

After taking time off from school during treatment, Bethany is now studying for her A-levels and plans to attend university to pursue her dream career in pharmaceuticals.

Bethany added: “I’m doing a lot better now and I’m seeing my friends more.

“I think the most important thing for me is to say if something is wrong get your eyes checked. It could save a life.”

Leanne Thurlow, director of Specsavers Stowmarket, said: “Bethany’s story has touched us all and, despite this, we are delighted to hear that she achieved excellent results in her GCSE exams.

“We are proud to look after the eyes and ears of Stowmarket. However, if you are unable to attend one of our unaccompanied shops due to disability or illness, we can help you by our mobile opticians if you are eligible The team provide you with the same high quality eye care at home. Specsavers Home Visits cover over 90% of the UK.”

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