Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More Than Meets The Eye

A few days ago I was contacted by a woman, asking me if I'd like to be added to an ocular melanoma(also known as OM)Facebook group.  When I first read the message, I thought, "How sweet of someone to reach out to me like that!" But within seconds my thoughts took a detour to the land of No-More-Denial...without my permission.  I sort of hate that place.

I did not want to be part of this group...or really it's that I did not want to "qualify" for this.  I have had melanoma (twice).  I have accepted that and daily, I try to do something good with that.  But to add another damn thing to the diagnosis list felt like too much.  I just wanted to depart from the truth, wrap myself in a favorite defense mechanism (denial), and walk on.

I wrote the woman right back, telling her I'd love to join the group.  Ugh.  Time to face the fact that I am part of this group, like it or not. Michael J. Fox rolled out some wise words with certitude, when he said, "My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance..."  BOOM!  And there it was...time to accept this as reality...I AM part of this. And once I have accepted something, it's time to talk loud about it, in an attempt to educate others.

My diagnosis of Primary Acquired Melanosis  (if left untreated can lead to the development of ocular melanoma)is what got me here.  In May, 2012, it was discovered that I had PAM in my left eye, something that would require surgery, to include shots in my eyeball, the taking of a biopsy, stitches and freezing around the area...while awake!!! Needless to say, it was not pleasant. And let's not forget, the recovery and the waiting for biopsy results.  

When I tell people they should wear sunglasses, I'm not saying it just to say it. I say it because EVERYONE needs to do everything they CAN do to protect their eyes.  And the eyes of their kids.  Genetics, we can not control, but action taken to protect, we can. 

Sunglasses and hats!  That's what we can do. One thing that needs to be clear, is that not all sunglasses are created equally!  The Mayo Clinic provides a detailed guide to what needs to be considered when choosing sunglasses.  Same goes for the hats; a wide brimmed hat will provide the best eye protection.

What exactly is ocular melanoma?  The most basic way to describe it this:

Ocular melanoma is a form of melanoma that develops in the eye. It is the most common eye cancer in adults and the second most common type of melanoma. Approximately 2,000 Americans are diagnosed with ocular melanoma each year, and 50 percent of these cases spread to other parts of the body. When this occurs, it is most often fatal.

Back to the OM group invitation...So of course, after I was added to the OM group, I went to scroll through the page, to get an idea of what goes on there.  And although tragic and horrifying, sad and unfathomable, I found myself immersed in the story of a 35 year old OM warrior, Sarah Elizabeth and her journey.

She is a funny, witty, dynamic, honest, creative, raw, courageous, inspiring young woman...who may be at the end of this cancer trek. Visit her blog, Love X Infinity, Squared to read her beautiful writing.  I am beyond moved by this woman. She gives me strength to go out and teach others about this rare, but deadly cancer known as OM. 

To learn more about Ocular Melanoma, click the links below:

Behind Blue Eyes By The Who

This blog post is dedicated to Sarah Elizabeth.



  1. Timna, this is awesome! Can you post this on the Ocular Melanoma Support Group Page? Incredible, I was moved to tears. Love you, my friend!

    1. Hi Suzy! Thank you for reading!!! I just posted it in the 2 OM groups I'm a part of :) Love You, T