Monday, May 16, 2011

"Faded Lights"

(by Jordan Critz) Faded Lights - Jordan Critz - EP


{This video isn't much of anything, but I couldn't find another way for y'all to hear the song!}

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so once again I'm giving my spiel! Ocular Melanoma is different from Cutaneous (skin) Melanoma, which is this month's main focus. **steps on soapbox** But OM doesn't even have a day or a ribbon. **steps off soapbox** So I like to take a day out of this month to raise a little awareness, since this is the closest thing we have. I really don't know why I bother, since the five of you already know about it! But a stranger happens by every once in awhile, so maybe this will benefit someone I don't even know. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm basically just going to post a revised version of what I said last year (with a few edited facts)...

To understand Ocular Melanoma, I'll first give a brief synopsis of melanoma in general. Melanoma is not "just skin cancer". Skin cancer alone is very serious & claims nearly 11,000 lives each year, but melanoma is more than that. It is a cancer that begins in melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin (the pigment that colors the skin, hair, and eyes, as well as forms moles). Since most of these pigment cells are found in the skin, melanoma of the skin is the most common form of melanoma. However, melanoma can develop in the eye, digestive tract, brain, spinal cord or other areas where melanocytes are found. Melanoma is quite serious, because it can spread to almost any other organ in the body. It most commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, bones, and brain.

Ocular Melanoma is a rare and life threatening cancer which affects the cells in the eye. OM is the second most common form of melanoma after skin melanoma, though it represents only about 5% of all melanomas. It is the most common form of eye cancer in adults & the most dangerous. Studies have shown that 50% of patients develop metastatic tumors within the first five years. The only study I know of that followed patients beyond five years showed a 66% metastasis rate. There is no known effective treatment once OM has metastasized, which means that metastatic disease is always fatal. More research is needed urgently to improve patient outcomes. OM is an "orphan" disease, meaning that because it is so rare, there is little in the way of public funding devoted to research and treatment; therefore, private contributions are critical! I would like to ask anyone who is able to please consider making a donation to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation, in the hopes of one day finding a cure.

While I'm on the subject, can I just be honest with y'all? {I must warn you that Gloomy Gus is about to take over this post. If you can't handle it, you don't have to keep reading!} I thought that this four month break (from seeing cancer-related doctors) would be a peaceful reprieve, but that hasn't turned out to be the case. I don't know if I'm just giving in to fear, or if this is normal. I talked to a friend of mine who lost her husband to cancer a few years ago, and she seems to think I'm grieving. I guess I knew that (since I basically admitted it already in that one post), but I feel sorta like I'm stuck. Like I should be in a better place right now (emotionally). Toni also told me to stop telling myself that I should or shouldn't be handling it a certain way. Until she said that, I hadn't realized that I'd been doing it. But I totally have been. She also asked if I have somebody that I can talk to about it. I have some wonderful friends that I can definitely talk to, but I hate always being a downer. I'm not a sad person, so I don't want to always come across that way. And I hate crying all the time. Plus people tend to not know how to handle it. Before you get all worried about me, I'm not sad all day every day. I think about it every day, but I don't always cry. And when I do, it doesn't last long. Blogging helps make sense of my thoughts sometimes ~ though I must confess that if you'd have asked me three years ago if I would post this type of personal stuff on the internet, I would've said you were crazy!

There's one other thing that I'm sure has contributed to my emotional state. I don't know why I didn't tell y'all about this before, but Chris finally decided to go to the dermatologist for a mole scan (which he was advised to do at the very beginning of this whole cancer ordeal). Some studies show a link between atypical mole syndrome and OM. It doesn't really mean much to us in terms of treatment (or even prognosis), but it's worth documenting for research purposes. Atypical moles are generally considered to be pre-cancerous, so most doctors remove them just to be safe. With all that said, Christopher has had 8 or 9 moles removed over the past couple of months. They even went back and took a bigger sample from one of them. It appears as if only a couple of them are considered atypical ~ but he has to go back every three months for awhile, then every six months for the rest of his life. {He thinks it's because they like him, and he's a sunny spot in their dreary work life. I think they like his $35 co-pay.} Anyways, it hasn't been so fun having to wait for results every couple of weeks. And so much for a four month break.

This whole thing has been like the worst roller coaster ride ever. Sometimes I'm at the top & can see a little beyond where I am. And I have some peace. Other times I'm just at the bottom. And the bottom sucks. I totally know where my focus needs to be, and I really do try to keep it on God. Sometimes it's easier said than done, though. Anyways, I guess I'm just letting y'all know how I'm feeling, because I could really use your prayers. Y'all have been so great when I've been in a little funk in the past. I really appreciate your encouragement and prayers more than you will ever know!

Thank you so much for hearing me out again today! Just a couple more things on both skin melanoma & ocular melanoma...to prevent skin cancer, please use a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher ~ especially on your little ones, as studies have shown that 80% of lifetime sun exposure is obtained before 18 years of age. (For more tips, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation). Originally, excessive exposure to sunlight was thought to be a key risk factor for Ocular Melanoma, but no study has proven a direct link to development of OM tumors. & while there is no known cause of OM, early detection is SO important, so please get yearly dilated eye exams!!

Amy

1 comments:

Brooke said...

continued prayers for your family.

i have to visit my dermatologist once a year. when she finds something its usually every 6 months until she doesn't find anything for another time or two. :P

and when i tell jay i'm going, he always thinks i'm going to the spa to get a mani/pedi or something. boys! *eye roll*