In 2012 I was diagnosed with eye cancer, known as Ocular Melanoma*.
I had no symptoms sometimes associated with this disease, but was diagnosed during what was supposed to be a routine eye exam to update my eyeglasses prescription.
Within 6 days of diagnosis I was at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, and received radiation treatment using the procedure known as Plaque Brachytherapy.
The primary tumor was successfully treated and while I had loss of vision in the treated eye, once healed I have been able to drive, work full-time and honestly most days, barely noticed the loss of vision.
Unfortunately, just three weeks after my five year diagnosis anniversary in November 2017, my annual surveillance scans showed the cancer has metastasized (spread) to my liver. This happens in 50% of patients. I received immunotherapy treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital the day after Christmas.
Three weeks later I was admitted to the hospital with life threatening side effects; my immune system was attacking my muscles (myositis with rhabdomyolysis) and my heart. I was in the hospital for 8 days. I was left with an autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis.
My case was unusual and I am not sharing this to frighten anyone away from immunotherapy! I am only the second person my doctor has ever heard of who had this type of extreme reaction! It did lead to a lot of visits from a lot of doctors and medical students, anxious to see someone undergo the diagnostic examination process necessary to determine why I suddenly had this rare autoimmune disease!
I created this website to have a place to share the resources and links I have found to be valuable, as well as to share articles I write on topics which are of interest to me.
— Susan Sawhill Apito
*Ocular Melanoma is also known as Uveal Melanoma.