Aug 8th, 2021
I was diagnosed with Choroidal Melanoma in March of 2008.
My optometrist found a freckle in my eye at a routine exam. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I eventually told her that I had been seeing a flash of light in my right eye for several months.
She sat me back down in the chair and took a much longer, more careful look. She said that she wasn’t qualified to diagnose anything, but that I had better have someone else take a look. She sent me to a retina specialist the next day. She actually called and made the appointment right there.
The retina specialist said the freckle was small, but that I should go to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia to have them take some pictures and monitor it. Luckily Philadelphia was only an hour away from my house. His office actually called and made the appointment while I was standing there waiting to go home to tell my husband. I went the following Monday morning.
Dr. Shields came in the room and said, “We think you’re going to be alright.” But she thought I had melanoma. I had no idea you could get that in your eye. She asked me what I was doing that following Thursday.
I scheduled plaque radiation. My husband brought me, and stayed in a hotel nearby for the five days the plaque was on my eye. This was right before Holy Week, the busiest time for a church musician. I remember having to sing by candlelight, not being able to see out of one eye, and spending much of the week doing music in church.
Later that year, the biopsy came back monosomy 3, the most dangerous mutation. To this day, every time I go to Wills, Dr. Shields remarks that she can’t believe a tumor as small as mine was monosomy, and how lucky I am that we found it that small.
Early on, when I was having scans once a year and going to Wills every year, I started seeing Dr. Takami Sato to monitor for metastasis. I am currently NED 13 years later. Since my diagnosis, I have become a certified yoga teacher, a Licensed Massage Therapist, I have retired from my career as a full-time church musician, and have become a self-employed freelance musician, substitute organist/director, massage therapist, and yoga teacher.