Jacqueline’s lucky escape

A Honiton woman says a routine eye exam saved her life. Her daughter is now fund-raising for specialist eye units.

A Honiton woman says she is lucky to be alive after a routine eye exam led to the diagnosis of a rare form of cancer.

Jacqueline Greengrass was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in October 2010 – a cancerous tumour affecting the eye - and had to have her eye removed.

She hopes her experience will be a warning to others.

“Never in my wildest dreams did cancer come into my head,” says Jacqueline. “I am very lucky to be alive because of the quick response by the staff at Eyedeals who contacted the hospital in Exeter.

“If the eye had been left another six months I may not be here as the cancer would have hit the optic nerve and gone straight to my brain, liver and kidneys.

“My life has been saved and I put it down to going to the opticians.”

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The 54-year-old was overdue for an eye examination but says, at the time, she had not experienced any symptoms.

During her eye exam Jacqueline was advised to go immediately to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

She later had to travel to the St Paul’s eye unit of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital for specialist treatment.

Unfortunately, doctors feared the cancer would spread to other parts of Jacqueline’s body and removed her eye in a procedure known as enucleation.

“The last thing I did with my eye was wink,” she said. “I never expected to lose my eye - it was such a shock.”

Jacqueline admits it has taken her time to come to terms with losing her eye, which has changed some aspects of her life.

“I am more self-conscious now but, apart from that, it has changed me in as much as I think how lucky I am to be here,” she says. “I don’t take anything for granted and get on with my life and take all the joys from life.”

Jacqueline hopes her story will save others from potentially life-threatening conditions and wants to encourage people to make sure they attend eye appointments.

She said: “Don’t put appointments back - go and get your eyes tested, because any health condition can be shown through an eye test whether it be macular degeneration, diabetes, strokes or mini-strokes, and of course rare eye cancers.”

Her daughter, Leanne, is trying to get a registered charity set up to raise money for the eye care units in Exeter and Liverpool and is organising a See the Future summer ball.

The event, on Friday, September 14, at Woodbury Park Hotel, includes a champagne reception, three-course dinner and live music. For tickets call 07832130533.