Monthly Archives: July 2009

update on Rachel

We definitely appreciate your thoughts and prayers for us today. The countless number of emails, facebook responses, texts, etc. has been overwhelming and have been much needed support for us.

Today was a good day considering the circumstances – and we feel much better about treatment and the future then we ever have since the diagnosis in June. The doctor we met with today (Dr.  Harbour) is most likely the expert in dealing with this type of cancer and has developed research and clinical studies that are being used worldwide. He helped us understand the severity of the tumor and also has given us more insight on what is going on in Rachel’s eye. The tumor is large – about half an inch (remember it is on the eye) and is literally sitting on the top of the optic nerve. This is where the major problem lies in determining if any type of radiation treatment will be able to remove the tumor.

Dr. Harbour noticed that Rachel’s body has actually been fighting the cancer and building an immunity against it which was unique int his situation. Because of this, this tells us that this has been a problem that has developed over time and her right eye has been compensating for the vision loss in the left eye.

The doctor believes that a radiation plaque therapy will kill most of the tumor (picture for those that want to see – but it is gross) and what it doesn’t get can possibly be eliminated through laser radiation (because of the size of the tumor, a laser would destroy the eye if that was the sole treatment). This surgery will take place in two weeks in St. Louis. The surgery will start on a Friday and she will have to have a gold plate inserted into her eye with radiation and it will remain on her eye for 4 days. After the weekend, the plate will be removed and she will be released to come back home. During the surgery, the doctor will biopsy the tumor and conduct some very important gene research. This will be able to help us know if the tumor has an aggressive behavior to it where it will most likely spread, or if the tumor will not have a tendency to spread.

If she receives a clean bill of health, there will still need to be some follow-up appointments made. 3-month, 6-month, and 1 year appointments will be made and then we will determine how often testing needs to be done. If there is a chance that it may spread, she will have to return on a more frequent basis and have more testing done to monitor it.

After surgery, Rachel will most likely have impaired vision in that eye, however, since her right eye has been compensating already, there may be a chance that it is never really noticed.

We are obviously thrilled that her eye will be saved, and now the prayers will return to focusing on making sure that the cancer does not spread in her body.

Thanks again for your support – we will keep you updated on this journey.

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Where I’ve Been

So my blog has been pretty quiet lately. There have been a lot of things going on in my life and I really haven’t made much time to take advantage of this outlet. Recently I have had a lot of people concerned for my family and for those of you that have asked or wanted more details, I thought this would be the best venue for it. I won’t promise to post regular updates, but I will try.

THE STORY
Several weeks ago Rachel was nearing the end of her employment with her job and had decided to make an appointment with the eye doctor to basically “use the benefit she had”. At the check-up the doctor noticed something unusual and had originally thought they discovered a detached retina. She was asked to immediately go to the specialist across town and after several tests, he discovered that it was not a detached retina, but a mass on her eye.

Later that week (while celebrating our anniversary and her ending her employment) we had several tests ran and met with many doctors. At a second visit to the eye specialist, Rachel was diagnosed with ocular melanoma – in other words, cancer on the eye. We have discovered that the tumor is quite large (for its kind) and finding that there are not many options of treatment to really eliminate the tumor. There are a few that might work – some type of radiation beam, plaque therapy (where a gold plate with radioactive material is inserted behind her eye for a localized radiation treatment) or total eye removal. Because this form of cancer is quite rare and fatal, the doctors are also very concerned that it may have spread.

Those that we have spoken with have said that the tests we have initially had are not 100% clear if the cancer has spread or not.  Because it is near the nerve and the walls of the eye socket – there is still a strong chance that it has microscopically spread to the rest of her body. There is also a chance that even after the tumor or eye has been removed the cancer can still spread. So regardless of the treatment, Rachel will have to go for continued PET scans to catch anything going forward.

We will be traveling to St. Louis this week to have an expert in the field look at her eye and determine what kind of treatment we will need to proceed with. Needless to say- this has been quite overwhelming for us. This has challenged my faith in some areas, but it is also challenging me seek God in greater ways.

We definitely covet your prayers during this time, and we will keep you updated as best as we can. We are blessed to have good friends and thank you to those that have expressed concern and have already begun to pray.

| terry and rachel |

We have fun together.

We have fun together.

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