This is a wonderful site and resource for someone going
through the experience of losing and eye. Like you, I am a
very active 35 year-old man that had never heard of "eye
cancer" before. I was actually riding my bicycle about a
month ago, which I put a few thousand miles a year on, and
noticed some floating vision in my right eye. The next day
I noticed it more while I was riding again and contacted an
Ophthalmologist the next day. He saw me a day later and saw
the melanoma right away. He said I was lucky to have caught
it because I had actually torn my retina, which was
actually what brought me in to see him. The tumor was
totally unrelated to my symptoms but wouldn't have been
I came back the next day to see his partner who was also
a retina specialist. He confirmed the finding and made me
an appointment at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia a few
days later. I used that time to do a little investigating.
Fortunately I live in the Philadelphia area and I recruit
physicians for a living so I know some reputable people to
contact about where I was going and who I was seeing. I was
happy to find that there really isn't anyone better to go
in the country, possibly the world, for my treatment than
where I was going.
I was somehow under the impression that my melanoma was
small, possibly by the fact that my Ophthalmologist kept
telling me not to worry and that I was going to be fine. I
had learned from the eye cancer network website that for a
small melanoma they typically radiate it and shrink the
tumor, not a major ordeal. I was wrong. Carol Shields, MD
and her team found the tumor to be 12.8mm, what they would
classify as large, since it was basically half of my eye.
The best form of treatment was enucleation. I agree with
you, this is a terrible word. From the information I had
gathered, if these people were telling me this was my best
course of action, I was listening. I don't mind telling you
that I am a former Marine and have seen some crazy things,
this brought a tear to my eye, the one I was going to
Later that week I had my surgery and it went pretty
smoothly. You know, I guess I was a little preoccupied
mentally, because I never really thought much about the
possibility that they may remove the wrong eye by mistake.
Maybe it was because at least six or eight people through
the pre-op process asked me which eye would be removed. I
had the operation on Thursday afternoon, February 15th,
2001 and went home the next morning. Fortunately its only
and hour drive. I had dull pain in my right eye until about
Monday. It was mostly caused when I would look at something
with my good eye and my right would try to follow. Later
that week I took a couple of short drives around the
neighborhood in my car and a little more than a week after
my surgery I was riding my bike again.
Its been a month since my enucleation and my life has
started to go back to normal. I have been back to work for
over two weeks (the first week from home) and have been
riding my bike at least every other day for an hour or two.
I tried riding my mountain bike on some relatively easy,
wooded trails and had some difficulty with rocks and roots.
That will take some getting used to again but I am
confident I will be able to do it. I am looking forward to
doing some racing again this summer and fall.
In the last six weeks I have had a couple of those "why
me?" days. I already wear corrective lenses (used to wear
contact lenses) so I had routine eye exams annually and
just had one four months before my diagnosis. I wondered
that if it had been picked up then would I have lost my
eye? I didn't dwell on it long because it wasn't going to
make the cancer go away or bring my eye back.
I have kept a positive attitude and have had wonderful,
wonderful support from family, friends and colleagues. I
don not see this as any kind of handicap and will be
offended if others think I am. I am usually a pretty
positive person anyway and I think that has helped. So far
the biggest difference I see is some lost peripheral vision
on my right side. That just means that my wife can sneak up
on me more easily so I guess I will have to learn to turn
my head more. I have missed a step on the stairs in my home
a couple of times and have nearly banged my head on open
cabinet doors. I am learning.
Your section on visiting the Ocularist will be helpful
because I do that in a couple of weeks. I have been a
little anxious about it and your experience puts it in a
good perspective. I am actually really excited about it
because I want to get back on with things. Getting rid of
they eye patch will help me feel better about myself. It
makes me think about one of my favorite movie quotes. If
you've ever seen The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman's
character tells us to either "get busy living or get busy
dying". I prefer the former and have adopted that
Your site is a great reference for people who have gone
through this ordeal or are about to. I will be sure to
recommend it to Dr. Shields when I see her again in a
couple of weeks.