I had my right eye removed due to squamous cell skin cancer on September 26, 2007. I doubt that I will ever forget that day, but let me back up a little.
When I was 18 years old, I received a pair of contact lenses as a High School graduation (1962) present. They were the hard lenses and took some getting used to, but it was a love affair from the beginning. I had worn glasses due to progressive myopia since I was 11 years old. Using those contact lenses made my peripheral vision and sight in general nearly perfect.
For many years, I enjoyed my lenses, always getting exams for any problems that may have occurred and, of course, new prescriptions as the years went by. Over the course of the years, I had more than one eye infection. I always removed my lenses for a week or two, used the medication prescribed by the doctors and when the condition healed, I happily put my lenses back in.
When I was 40, my husband and I left Chicago, IL, and moved to Phoenix, AZ. My new Ophthalmologist in Phoenix decided to look under my right eyelid since I was complaining of a slight irritation in that eye. He told me I had worn contact lenses long enough. He gave me medication to clear up the irritated spot under my upper lid. He told me he did not like contact lenses, especially the hard ones and told me to stop wearing them altogether. I did not listen and went to another doctor and got soft lenses. My eye felt better for a time but eventually I developed an itchy spot in the corner of my eye.
After consulting with several ocular specialists, I was diagnosed with squamous cell of the lid. In addition, upon removal of layers of the lid looking for margins and roots ending, I had to have my eye completely removed, this is called exenteration. From the information I had gathered, if these people were telling me this was my best course of action, I was listening. Later that week I had my surgery and it went smoothly. After several months following my exenteration, my life had started to go back to normal.
For the first six weeks after surgery, I had a couple of negative days. I did not dwell on the negative side long because it was not going to make the cancer go away or bring my eye back. I have kept a positive attitude and have had wonderful, wonderful support from family, friends and colleagues. So far, the biggest difference I see is some lost peripheral vision on my right side. Now my husband can sneak up on me more easily so I have had to learn to turn my head more. Steps can be a problem and have banged my head on open cabinet doors. I am learning. I do not see this as any kind of handicap. I am a very positive person and I think that has helped.
I went to an oncologist and dermatologist, both of which say I have no signs of the cancer having spread to other parts of my body whatsoever. I like to think my immune system was strong due to all the vitamins and supplements I have taken over the years and still take today.
Each morning I thank God for my left eye. I still drive legally in the state of Arizona and continue with my new love affair – the computer and helping others be healthy.