I am in the UK, I was diagnosed with OM 5 years ago and became stage IV with liver metastasis in May 2009. I am 53 now and never thought I would see 2012. I have had a hard time in the National Health Service getting a proactive approach to my disease. In the beginning it was very lonely. Things are changing and now most clinicians admit to patients that the disease can spread outside the eye. I am now looked after by excellent doctors who are prepared to answer my questions and inform me about my disease. I have been extremely lucky , my small choroidal melanoma was close to the fovea but Proton beam has enabled me to have better than 6/6(20/20) vision. I have had avastin vitrectomy and cataract ops too. My liver was looked after by a top MRI specialist who found my metastases very early. These were treated first with liver resections x2 then ipilimumab recurrences 6 months later SIRT sorted all but 2 of 18 metastasis throughout the liver. Microwave ablation sorted the last 2. The latter treatment was the hardest and completed in Dec I am only just getting fit again. My 5k time is embarrassingly slow but then many UK 53 year old females can not do 5k at all! I have added swimming and cycling too to my fitness regime to try and rest my joints a bit. My latest scans are all clear of disease. I have plans to run a 10k and maybe a half marathon- but also a SCUBA trip to the Maldives. I have only had surgery.ipilimumab and radiation for treatments no actual chemotherapy .I am writing this post because I think it is so important that we all unite and share information both between patients and doctors but also across the table.
I accessed treatments because I was informed. In 2007 if you had a poor diagnosis it generally was not thought wise for a patient like me to be informed. I was empowered to get myself informed by an American Charity (Lance Armstrong Foundation) and I owe them the time I have gained. I then met other patients through the internet and Sara and learned through others experiences and "Google" . Many US doctors have seen my scans at various times and advised me. Several times I have been on the verge of traveling to the US for treatment only to be able to access treatment in the UK. For some reason it is easier to find out "who does what" in the US than it is in the UK. I profusely thank all the US doctors who have responded to my emails over the last 5 years it gave me so much support and ideas. I hope by supporting CureOm and sharing across the pond that situation will change.
Reading Tom's post brought back so many memories of that first year post diagnosis- I really don't think I slept more than 15 minutes at a time for a whole year. For people with a new diagnosis I really want to tell them that even if the worst happens its not all bad. For those of you who have developed metastatic disease like me - yes its not always easy. For those carers who have lost their loved one - I am so sorry- but I thank you so much for continuing to be here and fighting for a cure for us. To the doctors who treat us I m sorry we are sometimes angry and you guys get in the firing line, I m sorry we don't often do well - it must be a hard disease to watch as a clinician over a career.
To all of those involved patents, carers and doctors sharing information and experiences from around the world has contributed to my disease free status- I am sure if team working across specialties and doctor patient relationships can be built on across the globe then a cure will be found for this disease.