A Journey Update

This is a guest post by my Dad. His prior guest posts can all be found here.


A year and a half ago, Rachel related the diagnosis of my cancer. I was stunned and deeply appreciative of all of the comments, concerns and prayers that her readers expressed. This week, when Rachel asked for a guest post (she didn’t ask me, by the way, she asked her mother to ask me!?!), I thought it might be time to update everyone on the progress of the journey.

First though, I think you should know the miraculous way in which the cancer was discovered. On a Thursday night, I woke up with bright flashes of light, almost stroboscopic, with my eyes closed. It continued even with my eyes open for several hours. I obviously didn’t know what was going on, and was concerned enough to go to the local paramedics Friday morning, thinking I might be having a stroke. They could find nothing wrong, but suggested I go to the emergency room. When I asked why, they responded that they suggest that to everyone who has symptoms they couldn’t explain.

Instead of going to the hospital, I decided to go directly to my family doctor. He was out of town, but I was examined by his partner who said that the flashes were an indication of migraine headaches. The flashes had stopped by this point, so I went on about my business and dismissed it altogether. Saturday, the area around my left eye began to swell and become irritated. By Monday, I was unable to open the eye, and when my wife pried it open, she said I had water blisters on my eyeball. OK, time to get serious and try to find out just what was going on.

We went to Sara’s ophthalmologist, a new experience for me since I have always been blessed with 20/20 vision. Her doctor said that I had a detached retina and sent me down the hall to a retina specialist.

That specialist was not in the office, so I was to see a new doctor that had just arrived the past week.

Great.

Not only was the doctor new to the practice, he was very young – disturbingly young.

After a long exam, and lots of lights shined into my eyes from every conceivable angle, he told me that I had a melanoma on one of the layers of my retina. It turned out that he had just finished a two year fellowship in Memphis with one of the four doctors in the country that specialize in this particular cancer. He had seen hundreds of these, but no one else in the office had ever seen a single one.

“How fast can you get to Memphis?”

Sonar, photos and more exams took place in Memphis and the diagnosis was confirmed. All of the swelling and water blisters disappeared, and were never explained or connected to the cancer.

The doctor in Memphis suggested a treatment, one that he performed on three patients a week. We set a time for the surgery, a time that allowed Sara and I to complete our planned 40 year anniversary “Lap of Alabama.”

EyepatchThe treatment consisted of stitching a nickel sized receptacle containing 13 radioactive seeds to the back surface of my eye. A lead patch was placed over the front of my eye and the whole assembly was left in place for a week.

During that week, we were required to stay in Memphis and certainly not allowed to cross state lines – because Homeland Security could track the radioactivity of my eyeball.

After a week, the “plaque” was removed and I was allowed to return home.

In the 15 months since the surgery, follow up exams have shown that the tumor is shrinking, and that there is no sign that it has spread anywhere else in my body. They tell me that if it intended to spread, it would already be in my blood and could spread to my liver or lungs. I have now had enough CAT scans and x-rays at the VA to give me cancer, but so far, all is good.

I even still have 20/20 vision.

Although some people might call this a “scare”, I don’t think I was ever scared. I have seen miracles. I continue to see miracles. Sight itself is a miracle. My blue eyed (as well as my brown eyed) grandchildren are miracles.

Pop

Although it may be a cliché, this experience has made me see more clearly what is important in my life. I have realized my own mortality, and that there are things I need to accomplish – to finish in the time I have left. I have been able to focus better on family relationships and friendships. I realize how blessed I am health wise, brought home more clearly whenever I see some of the less fortunate at the VA hospital. I also know (though I don’t fully understand) that God, the creator of the universe, cares for even me.

The journey continues.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. I had been wondering about this. Wow. What an amazing story of how God worked it out for him to see someone so familiar with his condition! Hoping it continues to improve. I am 28 and haven’t had 20/20 vision since I can remember- that is great.

  2. Sarah R in WI says:

    Now I am a giant puddle of tears! I’m so happy everything worked out for you. I think of you often and you are in my prayers.

  3. Lindsay D. says:

    Thank you for sharing your update! I am so glad to hear the tumor is shrinking and that it hasn’t spread. I’m a daddy’s girl, and my father has had some health issues. He had a heart attack when he was only 34 and in the best shape of his life! He’s now 57 and has had open heart surgery twice. He continually draws closer to God. And through each health issue, he praises God and knows He is in control. He is such an inspiration for our family. Sounds like you are too!!! God bless you.

  4. Thanks for sharing an update to your story–and what a powerful testimony of God’s greatness! It is truly amazing how He always puts us in exactly the place we need to be, even if it doesn’t make sense to us. Prayers for continued shrinkage of the tumor, and that you have many, many, many more years to dote on those beautiful grandchildren.

  5. Jennifer Harder says:

    That’s wonderful! I wondered how you were doing and prayed for you often. :)

  6. Susan Williamson says:

    Thank you for sharing. Hope your recovery continues.

  7. Wow what a wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! It is always great to see the way God blesses His children!
    P.S. Love the picture with the eye patch! :)

  8. Angela in Arizona says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your journey!

  9. I’m so glad for the update. God is good!

  10. Marian Carter says:

    Thank you so much for this update. I have been wondering about his progress but didn’t want to pry. We are so thankful for God’s healing power, mercy and grace.

  11. Thank God for his healing and recovery!! What a sweet reminder to cherish the days we have.

  12. Loved this! Thanks for sharing and so glad to hear of your progress.

  13. I too have been wondering about you–thank you for sharing your story. So glad to hear things are going well.

  14. Rachel, I’m SO glad to hear that your dad’s tumor what caught in time to treat and that his vision has been maintained at 20/20. I am an optometry student here in Birmingham at UABSO, and I would encourage any of your readers to have an annual DILATED eye exam with a good optometrist. If you live in the Birmingham area, you are blessed with a plethora of UABSO grads throughout the city, not to mention the school’s clinic. Optometrists can catch many things during your annual eye exam that you might not already know about yourself! The back of the eye (retina) is like a key hole into the rest of the body and can reveal many different systemic diseases, like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, any many others. I’m obviously a little biased, since I picked eyes as a career, but I would also encourage you to take your eye concerns directly to the source of an optometrist (or ophthalmologist). While medical doctors get an enormous amount of training, ocular disease is not their specialty and some things can be missed(like your Dad’s retinal detachment). Again, I’m so thankful your father was led to the care of some of the best and I hope that he is forever healed of this cancer! He spoke words true to my heart: “sight is a miracle”! Thanks for guest posting and sharing your story, Dad!

  15. What a wonderful story!! I love seeing little glimpses into the mysterious workings of God.

  16. Wow! I love this story and love your dad’s sense of humor, too. I wish you all continued good luck, health and happiness.

  17. What a wonderful update and answer to prayer! So good to hear … thanks for checking back in! The Lord is good.

  18. Chills! So grateful for the amazing way all these details worked together to provide for you father’s health! It really is amazing to read it all put together like this. And his sense of humor is fantastic. I’ll bet he is a wonderful grandpa.

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