Monthly Archives: August 2006

Confirmation: Stage 1

Today I received the results of my last MRI. The scan confirms the initial diagnosis of ocular melanoma. My next series of appointments is September 19 in Vancouver. I will visit the Eye Care Center and go on to visit the BC Cancer Clinic. My hope is that the cancer has not spread, that the 2 Avastin treatments have had some effect on the tumor. I’m not sure what to do from today until September 18. Any suggestions?

I guess now I am just waiting for the final confirmation that the cancer has not spread to my liver, which is usually it’s first stop if travelling. This leaves a very strange feeling to one’s self. I know that many have had this feeling. What is next?

I am fortunate that I have the life and lifestyle that I have. My business is sound and I basically work from home. I have  a wife that loves and supports me, although I can only imagine what is going through her mind right now. This is not the time to let moments escape with unsaid words.

Tomorrow, I hope I have one, will be another day. One day closer to confirmation stage 2.

Lord, please give me lots of tomorrows.

A Funny Thing Happened…..

The past Friday I had an appointment with Dr. Hopp, my opthamologist. He’s great. Without his care and the personal service of his staff I would have had a much harder time of all of this. After an examination of my eye Dr. Hopp told me that the fluid behind my eye appears to have diminished a little. Me, being the perpetual ‘sounds good to me’ guy paid that comment no heed. Until this morning, Sunday. Today I didn’t wear my eye patch at all. Now, the left eye still has almost no central vision and limited periferal vision and that’s why I’ve been wearing the eye patch for almost 2 months regularly now, it reduces the strain of seeing clearly because the brain isn’t fighting over what the good right eye and the bad left eye are telling it that they see.

But I have to tell you, although there is no obvious improvement in my left eye’s vision, today I had none of the regular depth perception difficulties, none of the blurring, strobing and occassional feelings of vertigo.

RelaxedHas the time with the eye patch on helped to strengthen the right eye to a better command of the optic signals?

Has the last Avastin treatment had some effect and reduced the fluid and the growth behind my eye?

Are my prayers and petitions being answered?

I believe that it is all of the above.  And that there is hope. I’m not worried about the big ‘C’ anymore.

Symptoms: or just not feeling 100%

Avastin Treatment January 2006Other aspects of the change in my vision that appeared have varied over time. My left eye retina became ‘swollen’ and quite stretched and wavy due to the growth behind my eye. This change in its size and the way it transmitted light has caused headaches, a feeling of vertigo, tiredness, nausea and of course, poor vision. I have had several treatments to either reverse the deterioration of vision and to stop/hinder the growth of whatever was behind my eye. 

Since I was first diagnosed with ‘macular degeneration’ based on the fluid/growth behind my eye, I had two photo dynamic treatments which is where a light sensitive fluid is injected intravenously into your arm and the eye is subjected to a cold laser which activates the drug and destroys the abnormal blood vessels that are causing the macular leakage. These treatments were not successful. The PDT treatment leaves it’s photo-sensitive drug in your system for about two days. You have to stay out of direct sunlight and allow yourself no brighter light than a 60 watt bulb or your skin may burn. Just like a vampire. Well, actually more like getting a very serious sunburn from which your skin may not heal because the drug allows your sensitivity to sunburn to a great depth of skin layers quickly. 

For your PDT treatment follow your doctor’s directions closely and don’t go into the sun for about 3 days. I also had three treatments of Avastin. Avastin is a cancer drug that is used to treat colon cancer mostly. The drug is injected directly into the colon tumor in an attempt to kill off the blood vessels surrounding the tumor which also causes the tumor to die. Avastin works well with colon cancer having a great success rate but unfortunately did not help me at all. The Avastin drug is injected directly into the growth behind the eye. Not an easy operation for the squeamish. Luckily enough for me I have a great family doctor that supplied me with a mild sedative and a very gentle ophthalmologist who knew how to administer the treatment with the greatest of care and a minimal amount of discomfort. 

Other symptoms (maybe) that have occurred include a facial twitch that started in March 2006. I could feel the twitch at the corner of my left eyebrow and at times it went from my eyebrow to the left corner of my mouth. It was often accompanied with a feeling of numbness on the left side of the face that felt like getting a freezing shot from the dentist. When the twitching started it would last anywhere from 30 seconds to over 5 minutes. It was enough for me to feel it but not enough that it was a visible twitch. Over time the frequency has subsided to the point now that it happens only a couple of times a day. The numbness of the left side of the face has also subsided.

I saw a neurologist about the twitching and numbness sensation and after a couple of months had an MRI. It was inconclusive although there were other abnomolies that are being watched. Two weeks ago I have a more extensive MRI done and should get the results this coming week.

Today I am one month away from yet another visit to Vancouver BC for yet more tests to confirm or not if this is indeed cancer. 

I’m getting used to the wait and see timeline of dealing with my loss of vision.

The Odds

I had to stop and think about the odds of getting this particular type of cancer. 6 out of one million people will be diagnosed with this cancer in any given year. Canada has a population of almost 30 million.
 30 X 6= 180

About 180 people in Canada will be told they have ocular melanoma in the next 12 months.
 In contrast you have one in a 14 million chance of winning the 6/49 lottery. You have a better chance of losing your vision, and eye, to this cancer than winning the lottery. I think I just stopped buying tickets! Of course the odds even out if you buy tickets for about 26 months. If life was fair, that is.