A GIRL whose life was ‘saved’ by quick-thinking opticians in Rustington was the guest of honour as the store opened its new home on Saturday (October 25).
Freya Angilley, 13, was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour after she went in for a routine eye check at the Specavers opticians, in The Street, in May, 2012.
The youngster, then a year-six pupil at Summerlea Community Primary School, in Rustington, had been suffering from excruciating headaches for weeks and had been vomiting a lot.
Worried mum Denise Angilley, of Camelia Close, Littlehampton, had been advised to take her daughter in to have her eyes tested to see if poor vision was the cause for Freya’s ailments.
However, within minutes of being at the opticians, Freya’s eye consultant, Mr Lim Hsin Chein, who was conducting the test, spotted the worrying signs of a tumour on her brain.
“It was a total whirlwind,” said Denise, a receptionist at River Beach Primary School, in Littlehampton. “I booked her in for an appointment and the optician asked why she was here.
“I told him she had been having headaches and kept being sick. We thought it was just hormones kicking in.
“But we knew something was wrong when he skipped past the ‘ABC’ tests and started looking at the back of her eye.”
That night, Freya was rushed to Worthing Hospital where doctors eventually took the decision to transfer her to St George’s Hospital in London.
The next day, the youngster was having emergency surgery to reduce the swelling in her skull and to cut out a dangerous tumour.
“We were just in absolute shock, especially when she came back from the MRI scan,” Denise said. “Then to have her on a blue light ambulance travelling to London and to be told she needed an emergency operation was very scary.”
Freya needed another operation to fit a shunt in her skull to drain away a build- up of fluid. She then faced 48 weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, missing a whole year of school in the process.
However, now the bubbly youngster is well on the road to recovery and is a year-nine student at The Littlehampton Academy.
She got to cut the ribbon at Specsavers’ new store, in The Street, surrounded by her ‘fan club’ of friends and family.
Freya said: “It was really embarrassing cutting the ribbon.”
The opticians were raising money for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, which supported Freya during her recovery.
Lim Hsin Chein was not there on the day, as he has moved to Australia.
However, Denise praised his actions in helping her daughter. “He saved her life,” she said. “It was through his persistence that she was treated so quickly. We can’t thank him and Specsavers enough for their help.”