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Suffolk man issues stark warning after first ever eye test reveals cancer

Author: Patrick Lowman Published: 1st August 2016 15:06

 Ralph McMurray and his wife Anne

Suffolk man issues stark warning after first ever eye test reveals cancer

 

A retired Suffolk police officer has urged people to ensure they have regular sight checks after being left with one eye and incurable cancer.

 

Devastated Ralph McMurray, 66, of Long Melford, was diagnosed with ocular melanoma (a rare form of cancer) in February following his first ever eye test. The test was carried out at Wardale Williams opticians in Sudbury.

 

During the eye examination the optometrist spotted a detached retina and referred Mr McMurray to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds for further tests. The tests were sent to Moorfields Eye Hospital where a tumour was diagnosed. Such was the size of the tumour Mr McMurray had to have his eye removed at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London at the end of February.

 

Despite having his eye removed a harmful chromosome had got into Mr McMurray’s blood stream and there is now a 70% chance the cancer will mutate elsewhere in Mr McMurray’s body within the next five years. He has also received the devastating news his condition is not curable and the cancer will definitely return at some point.

 

“I am so glad I went for that eye test as the cancer would have only got worse and I may not even be here now. I am so grateful for the treatment and care I have received from Wardale Williams and at the hospitals.

 

“I am now determined to do as much as I can to raise awareness of the importance of having regular eye tests, they are so important as they can pick up signs of so many potential illnesses. In cases such as mine early diagnosis is crucial and the tumour would have been spotted much sooner had I been having regular eye examinations.”

 

Mr McMurray and his family are now trying to come to terms with the chain of events which have turned their lives upside down. He now has to have scans every six months to see if the cancer has returned.

 

“It is like a living time bomb, we are living in six month spells as we just don’t know what the next scan will show, it is very frightening.  It feels like our world is falling apart some days but we are all trying to remain positive and that is why we want to bring this important issue into the public domain. If we can save one life it will be worth it,” added Mr McMurray’s wife Anne.

 

In Mr McMurray’s case he hadn’t suffered any pain or signs of illness prior to the eye test. He was hit in the eye with a cricket ball whilst on holiday in Sri Lanka prior to his eye test, but there is no telling if there is any link between the incident and the discovery of the tumour.

 

“I had no reason to think I had anything wrong. I had no pain or other symptoms and my eye sight was good. I only went for the test as I thought it was probably something I should do at my age. Losing the eye has had a big impact on my life. I am a very social person, but now I don’t like being in crowds or around a lot of people,” added Mr McMurray.

 

Mr McMurray’s grown up daughters Krystle and Jade have already raised more than £1,600 for cancer charities Cancer UK and OcuMel UK, and are planning further fundraising activities.

 

Will Norman, Senior Optometrist at Wardale Williams, said: “We have nothing but respect for Mr McMurray and his family for how positive they have remained in such difficult circumstances. It is admirable that the family now wants to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations.  We will be working very closely with them to ensure we spread this important message far and wide. Although eye cancer is rare an eye examination can pick up signs of a great many other conditions including glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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