Mary Laeger-Hagemeister | CaringBridge

Mary Laeger-Hagemeister

First post: 5/13/2017 Latest post: 5/24/2017
Five years ago when Jeff was diagnosed with cancer, he asked friends to have a theme song for him. Well, now it's my turn. As it turns out, a dear friend from the YMCA gave me a Dorey pitcher for my birthday - - little did either of us know, that it would inspire my theme song for this new journey. Just keep swimming swimming swimming. It sits on my kitchen window sill as of today.

Yesterday I was diagnosed with Choroidal melanoma - - i.e. eye cancer. I have been doctoring for a couple months trying to figure out what is wrong. I'm fortunate to have a fabulous optometrist Dr. Beth Gilthvedt at Horizon Eye Care in Owatonna. When I was in for my last visit she detected something wrong with my right retina and because she is smart and well connected, within two days I was at the Retina Center in Minneapolis. The initial thought was that blob, because I don't know medical terms, was potentially a blood vessel that had burst but not been fully absorbed. So, we waited two weeks. The discomfort was only getting worse.

So, back to the retina doctor, who looks like maybe 18, but he is smart and thorough. Again he dilated my eyes - - I'm not talking the routine dilation like when you get your regular eye exam. One of my friends told me my eyes were so dilated I could be a disney princess. After more testing and ultrasounds, he looked at all my other health records and thought it was related to my Fibromyalgia and the other in-sundry diagnosis I carry around with me. We, he started me on prednisone drops in that eye every hour I'm awake plus 800 MG of ibuprofen three times day, thinking it was Occular Schlerosis and we had to get the inflammation under control. When I was there two weeks ago and it wasn't getting better - - more pain and it hurts so much when they are examining it and again major dilation and an ultra sound. I told my dear friend and neighbor who has been my transportation that with an ultrasound and my eye that dilated I should be able to push a baby out.

But, at that point he scheduled me to see his brother - - who specializes in retina tumors - - just to rule it out. So, back Rob and I went yesterday - - more dilation, more ultrasound, more pain. AND about 15 minutes of total silence in the exam room as he was calculating the size of the "blob" and my records. Then have such horribly loud silence, Rob and I kept looking at each other knowing that the silence wasn't a good sign, he turned to me and said "you have Choroidal melanoma - - eye cancer." There are two options, one is to remove the eye. (At this point, I almost laughed because I had been joking that well, they can just remove it and then I could have a blue one - -or multiple options for colors of eyes! But now, it's not a laughing matter.

The other options is to do radiation which involves a surgical procedure of putting a some sort of plate on the side of the side - - and then wearing again, as I understand it, a lead patch for four days and then they take that plate out. That is the radiation treatment.

However, he said this is a VERY long road ahead of me - - lots of scans, lots of looking if it has come back in other areas, and over time my vision in that eye might change including seeing double! that can be corrected with my glass lens. AND I could eventually loose sight in that eye. BUT, they want to try to keep the eye.

The other piece of this puzzle is that this diagnosis doesn't typically have pain with it - - so, he can't guarantee me that the pain will be gone after the procedure OR if they took out my eye.

Next steps - - I see an oncology radiologist May 16th, I'm still waiting to have a confirmed appointment to see a general oncologist because he thinks I should have my head, chest and abdomen scanned. Scheduling the procedure to put the plate in can't happen until both of those appointments are confirmed. BUT Dr. Vaughn wants the surgery in early June.

I am very very blessed with such fabulous neighbors who assure me they will keep an "EYE" on me!!!! I have many friends at the YMCA who have already offered to help me - - my kids will be here with me. I am blessed to be rich in friends and people who care. All will be well.

Last night I was in shock, this morning I cried - - but that makes my eye hurt. When I got out of bed, I started singing 'Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming" Just like Dorey did. That's what I have to do. BUT, I also want to be sad and I ache for Jeff to hold me.

So, what do I need. Encouragement, prayer for wisdom of the doctors, prayers for relief of this pain - - for a clear answer because at this point it seems like a wild card. It's weird because I was just visiting this week with a couple of people who are new on the grief journey and I said, the first two years are really hard in different ways, this third year, I feel like I'm coming back to life. BUT, I wasn't expecting this life.

My regards,
Mary

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