In 2009 I began having significant trouble with my vision. Thinking that maybe my prescription had changed, I made an appointment with my optometrist for a check-up. What she found was a tumor in my right eye. After seeing ophthalmologists in Roanoke and Charlottesville, Virginia, I was told that they suspected cancer. I was referred to Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I was diagnosed with malignant amelonotic choroidal melanoma, a type of cancer that affects 6 out of 1 million people in the United States each year. At that time I was told that the priorities were 1) to save my life; 2) to save my eye; and 3) to save my vision – in that order.
The tumor was considered a medium-sized tumor and the recommended treatment was radioactive plaque therapy. Had I been diagnosed several years ago, my only treatment option would have been removal of my eye. In two weeks I returned to Philadelphia for treatment where they attached a nickel-sized “plaque” with radiation seeds to my eyeball targeting this tumor. After 5 days the plaque was removed and I was sent home to recover. I have had good results from the initial surgery and the follow-up treatment that I have taken.
C-TREC is such a great way to raise money for rare cancer research and do everything we can as a community to make sure that treatment options are advancing. By funding research, we can make a difference for those who are affected in the future. In a small way, I feel like I am helping future generations to have even better treatment options than we do today!