“Judging that your breast cancer was caught at an early stage – my index of suspicion is low.”
That is what my oncologist wrote to me after the first ophthalmologist examined my left eye and told me I have early signs of cataracts, but also a raised area on my retina that “may” indicate the return of my breast cancer. In my eye!
In just the last few weeks, my left eye developed a cloudiness that limits my vision. Above the halfway mark, I see only a gray cloud. No pain, only annoyance. I immediately suspected cataracts, but was curious why it had popped up so strongly, so suddenly.
After the first eye exam, I was referred to a retina specialist. She probed, took photos, and scanned my eyeball… and came to the same conclusion: ocular metastasis. There’s no doubt a visibly raised area on my retina; anyone can see it on the photos. The growth covers about a third of the front of my eyeball and is perilously near my optical nerve (causing the cloudiness).
So. What had been low risk was now a high probability.
Next, I was examined by an ocular oncologist. He, too, explained that the incidence of metastasis to the eye was extremely low, as in the low single digits. He was extremely doubtful that it was merely a benign inflammation. “You lost the lottery,” he added.
That this cancer disease is a lottery—or a crap shoot—has been clear to me from the start.
Life itself has no rules—that is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life.Carl G Jung
The next step is for me to get a B-scan. This ultrasound is used to determine whether the tumor is solid, indicating metastasis, or hollow, indicating malignant melanoma. And that determines the treatment options. Either way, it’s cancer.
I asked him directly whether this tumor would kill me. He said, no, the eye would not.
BUT. My odds of further metastasis to my bones, brain, liver, or lungs just got significantly worse.
As a lovely friend responded to this news, “What the actual fuck. Fuckedy fuck FUCK.” That’s right; couldn’t say it better myself.
More tests coming. Liver scan, bone scan, chest X-ray. Blood tests.
I’m aiming not to let this dismal development ruin my day, today. Or the tomorrows.
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.Maya Angelou
I hug my honey hard. Often. He hugs me back. I’m grateful for the steadfast loving support I get from him and my friends. It fills my heart with joy.
And I am still at peace. Ever the stoic. Que sera, sera. I’ve already shared that I am not afraid to die.
Yet I am conscious of feeling a sadness settling in my body. Anticipatory grief for what clearly can no longer be, but without guilt, shame, or anxiety.
And I’m trying not to ruminate about what challenges could lie ahead for me. That’s made tricky by the constant reminder of my eye’s fuzzy vision.
Taking it all day by day. With compassion and with great love… even for this body that continues to disappoint me. And I keep on trusting the process.
I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.Carl G Jung