'He saved my life' - Karolina thanks optician after spotting unknown brain tumour

Ely woman Karolina Tkaczyk after brain tumour operation

Karolina Tkaczyk has thanked the optician who she says "saved my life" after referring her to Addenbrooke's Hospital before undertaking a brain tumour operation. - Credit: Karolina Tkaczyk

A woman who required a seven-hour operation to remove a brain tumour she did not know about until months later has thanked the man who “saved my life”. 

Karolina Tkaczyk of Ely began to get light headaches and was treated for high blood pressure in May last year, and was told losing weight may help. 

“So, I started swimming,” she said. 

“But the issues started getting more intense and in September, I went to a GP as it was getting worse.” 

Karolina was diagnosed with a strained neck, and despite trying to get a referral for a CT scan, would “sometimes wake up at around 3am with a throbbing headache”. 

Her mobility then became affected in mid-November and having failed to get a scan, decided to see a private doctor in Cambridge. 

“I went to them with a strained neck, headaches and they helped me with my posture,” said Karolina. 

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“But I think I made it worse, such as trying to sit in a certain position.” 

On December 7, Karolina’s blood pressure continued to soar as she started to vomit, and was told by doctors that “it will not be an emergency until your blood pressure gets to 180/120mmHg.” 

Karolina Tkaczyk of Ely and her parents

Karolina (right) with her parents almost four weeks after she underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour. - Credit: Karolina Tkaczyk

Later that day, the 28-year-old had blurred vision and booked an appointment at Specsavers in Ely four days later, when she saw optician Mr Adil Begdouri. 

He referred Karolina to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge after spotting issues with her vision. 

“On December 12, I had an MRI scan and they confirmed I had a brain tumour,” she said. 

“But they could not operate on me straight away as my brain was inflamed, so they had to give me steroids to calm it down.  

“I had the operation on December 14 and after seven hours, they managed to remove the tumour.” 

Karolina is now undertaking radiotherapy to help prevent the cancer from returning to her body and will also have chemotherapy over the next few months. 

The tumour, named medulloblastoma, is more common in children and it is unclear exactly what caused the tumour to grow in Karolina’s brain. 

Karolina Tkaczyk of Ely

Karolina Tkaczyk was diagnosed with a brain tumour last month after an optician referred her to hospital for scans. She is now on her way to recovery. - Credit: Karolina Tkaczyk

But she feels better than ever before, and is still coming to terms with the experience. 

“I don’t know how I’ll feel in the next few weeks but since surgery, I feel better than I ever did,” added Karolina. 

“I’ve not had a chance to sit down and think about what has happened; it still feels like it hasn’t really happened.   

“I’m very grateful to the optician; he saved my life. If it was not for him, I probably would not be here.”