Monthly Archives: September 2006

This is real life….

We’ve arrived home from our trip to Vancouver.

2 nights, 1 day full of tests at the BC Cancer Agency, the Vancouver Eye Care Center and Vancouver General Hospital.

I now have the appointments for my proton radiation therapy that I am facing.

Proton Radiation Therapy.

Three words that I never thought would involve myself. Actually, three words that I never knew existed together before July 2006.

I am somewhat amazed to know that in a country of over 30 million people there are exactly two that will be having Proton Radiation Therapy for Ocular Melanoma this year.

Normally this type of honor would make me feel special. Instead I am filled with dread.

1 in 15 million. 70% chance of keeping my eye. 70% chance that the proton radiation will not damage my eye to the point that it has to be removed.

And who cares about eyelashes anyways, right?

On the flip side there is about a 90% chance that the Proton Radiation Therapy will kill all the cancerous cells in the tumor that is in the back of my eye.

Of the edge side of the coin I have a 5 year / 80% survival rate and diminishing odds of the cancer not spreading. As one of my many doctors said to me Once it’s in the blood

This is not now a battle for eyesight. What I have now is the best it will be from now on. It will certainly stay this way or get worse. These are certainties.

The variable is the possibility of ‘metastasis”, the cancer spreading to the liver, the lungs, or other places not so far mentioned.

My Proton Radiation Therapy appointments start October 12. I get to have 4 metal plaques placed on the back of my eye, surrounding the tumor. As a bonus, I get to keep the plaques for the rest of my life. They first install the plaques. 4 days later I have a custom head brace made to hold me very, very still for the protons to be shot in my eye. And they run a simulation so that all the measurements are accurate. No mistakes are allowed. How many surgeries does the patient get to participate in a “run-through” first?

4 days after that I start 4 days of treatments.

After that, who knows? I don’t, but I hope to soon.

This is not a dress rehearsal

Well, I’ve done it.

I’ve discussed my diagnosis to all of my family and some of my friends. My wife continues to do more research online about ocular melanoma than I could possibly consider doing, looking for some hope in advance of the series of tests that are coming in Vancouver on September 19.

Hope. I have plenty.

I have no fear of the possibility that the cancer has spread. I have read some stories of people living a long time after their initial diagnosis. Of course there are also a lot of voices that have been silenced, but we won’t consider those.

I’ve found myself without an appetite for about 2 weeks now, maybe longer. Although I do feel hungry at times, when I eat I start to feel nauseated. I don’t think I’m losing weight at all, which is good.

I’ve also not been sleeping at night and I have started taking a few naps throughout the day. I just feel so tired all the time. Today no nap. Stay up as long as I can and take my medicine. Today is the second day of my family doctor prescribing me ‘Apo-Amitriptyline’. It’s a drug that is used for a variety of purposes one of which is to help you relax and get a restful sleep. It didn’t do anything on the first night, hopefully tonight will be better.