The little things and the big ones

It has been a while since my last post, sorry, I have been busy. Mainly with little things, like my dying washing machine. (I am such a terrible house wife, and hand washing the whole family’s clothes really is not fun and I did not do it very well!) I finally got a new machine, and it is a joy to be able to put clothes in, walk away, then come back and put them on the line…nice and clean. Be thankful of modern luxuries.

Also I started going to yoga classes, which I love. Many people have recommended yoga, and for a long time I have thought about it, but the breathing in yoga has always scared me, (and it is a big part of yoga!) My problem is that when I think about my breathing it makes me feel short of breath. However, when a good friend came back to Chile and started teaching yoga, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of having a friend help me with my breathing fears. She is a great teacher, and also speaks excellent English. For anyone looking for a bilingual yoga teacher in La Serena, here is her facebook page Yoga Jessyyoga.

And the results are great! I love how the yoga makes me feel; it pushes me, but at the same time helps me relax. Which I really need. Since I started taking the ergot based migraine medicine last year, I haven’t had a really bad, (as in a day in bed vomiting) type migraine, but I am still having lots of small migraines and feel I am taking the medicine too often. (not more than what the box says, but still a lot) However, without the medicine I know what my migraine will turn into, (a day in bed vomiting and another day to recover).

So this past month I have been going to yoga, taking a multi-vitamin with magnesium in it, (good for migraine sufferers), and trying not to eat foods that I think are triggers. Part of this is to control my migraines better, but it is also to look after myself and give the freckle in my eye everything it needs to stay a freckle.

Ah yes, the big ones, my freckle, which is actually a nevus/melanoma. That is what my scans and doctor call it. I visited my doctor again last week and she said that my nevus looks good; no changes, clean edges, not too thick. She also explained that there is less than 5% chance of it turning into melanoma. However, she also explained how a nevus can grow but still be a nevus, and a melanoma can be small and never change, so telling the difference between the two is difficult. So we wait and watch because there is more risk from operating, than what a large nevus or small non-growing melanoma could do.

Looking on the internet, (which they tell you not to do) the statistics from one study of 1611 patients with iris nevus, showed growth from nevus to melanoma to be “<1%, 3%, 4%, 8%, and 11% at 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years, respectively” and “risk factors for growth, identified by ABCDEF included Age young, Blood (hyphema), Clock hour inferior, Diffuse configuration, Ectropion uveae, and Feathery tumour margin”. Of the six risk factors, I have A (age ≤40 years at presentation) and C ( 4:00 to 9:00 clock hour location of tumour).  from “Iris Nevus Growth into Melanoma: Analysis of 1611 Consecutive Eyes: The ABCDEF Guide.

And because I visited the doctor last week and have to go back in July for another scan my nevus-not-cancer-but-may-be-one-day is on my mind. Always is when I have an appointment, (the rest of the time I don’t dwell on it so much). And really, I don’t know how to think of this. Do I think of it as just a nevus that will probably never change, and ignore the cancer side of it, (that kind of feels like denial). Or do I admit that I may have cancer but as long as it doesn’t change, it is not very dangerous? And I don’t understand why this feels so complicated. Maybe I am a bit of a control freak, and controlling starts with having the correct name! Maybe I should call it a tumour, not as innocent as a freckle, but not as scary as melanoma. Maybe that is easier to explain to people as well.

I know this is supposed to be a craft blog, or farming, or expat living in Chile, and not a cancer blog, (but it is mine) and this small brown freckle is causing me all sorts of thoughts and questions when it looks back at me in the mirror every day. And putting this all out there, into the wide world helps me put it into perspective. Because there are many things worse than what I am dealing with, and I know I am very fortunate; I have the little things in my life, not just the big ones.

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8 thoughts on “The little things and the big ones

  1. My 2 cents? It’s a freckle. You’re having it monitored, you’re doing everything in your power to keep it in check. I think you would be far better off focusing on the things that bring you joy. I think it’s so wonderful that you’re practicing yoga. I’m very sure that will help you all around (it’s on my to-do list too). Your family and of course, your fibre-y stuff. I’ve been reading and learning a LOT about energy lately. If you focus your energy where you want it to be, that is what will manifest in your life. I know I’m not in the same position as you, but I have been staying with my mom for the past month who does have cancer. We’re not in denial about it, we talk about it when we need to. When we don’t have to, we’re focusing on the good stuff. Chances are she’s worse than what I know because she doesn’t go into detail. She could be kicking butt too. We’re living in the now because really, sick or healthy, now is all we have. Sending you positive vibes and healing energy *HUGS*

    • Thanks for your advice. I agree with positive energy and focusing on the good stuff, (which I really do have a lot of). I guess a part of me wants to be prepared if it ever changes, so it doesn’t sneak up on me. And I do get worked up when I have it checked and think about the possibilities, but once I get home, talk about it with my family, then I start to calm down.

      I saw this freckle in 2009, but I have only started seeing the doctor since the end of 2012, so it is all still a bit new. It just helps to talk, (or write) and share what I am going through.

      Thanks a lot for the hugs, it means a lot to me. 🙂

  2. Alison says:

    I’ve had a freckle in my eye for as long as I can remember. My dad has one and his mum did too.

    • Yes, I think about 10% of the population has freckles in their eyes, they usually appear in puberty and can get darker with hormone changes like pregnancy. And are perfectly safe as long as they don’t change, (just like a mole on your skin).

      Normally, I think they check them once a year to make sure there is no change. I think they are watching mine a bit closer because it only appeared a few years ago, and the doctor wants to set up a base of pictures and scans to see there is no more growth. She thinks it was always there and it is just the colour that changed.

      I always get nervous when I have visits, 🙂

  3. Sara says:

    You are a braver soul than I, for I would not hand wash all of our laundry. Good luck with the yoga, too. I love it. I’m waiting to head back when Squeaker is a little older.

    • Hee heee, well it wasn’t exactly hand washing. More like scrub the bits that were really dirty and let the rest kind of swirl around in the limping machine. I really am a lazy house wife!

      Glad to see you are in your new place, even if the futon legs and pillows are watching your cable by themselves!

  4. Lisa C says:

    I have a similar nevus, I’m 38 since this July. I was diagnosed with melanoma 2012. It was on my left upper arm. My nevus is in my left eye in the same spot as yours. It was just noticed this spring summer when I felt the need to check my eye cause symptoms I was having pointed to ocular cancer. This nevus came out of no where and the eye Drs don’t believe me. Even though my past vision checks never mentions it. I also had made comments about this prior to having melanoma cause my son has nf1 and has to have his eyes checked for this I said they’re pretty not knowing people could get eye cancer and looked and knew I didn’t have any. I don’t know where to turn to. It took three Drs and the insistence with the third Doctor approx three times to biopsy my arm. The spot was very small but new and odd to me. She finally removed it saying due to my anxiety and PTSD. She said its most luckily nothing. A few days later I got a call asking me to come in, I knew right then and there it had to be something. I have always had 80% correct feelings. Like with my son, I had amino to check cause my pregnancy felt off. Test showed normal but he had nf1. Which his dr told me when he was thee months. I also asked to check for seizures for yrs. she kept telling me no cause he had no symptoms. It took us moving states to finally get a dr to listen and confirm he had seizures most of his life, he was 9 when they confirmed. I also diagnosed my son with Moyamoya 3 yrs before his neurosurgeon did. I didn’t catch the aneurysm, but thank God they did.

    • Hello Lisa, thanks for getting touch. Sorry to hear about you and your son’s health issues, but glad to hear you are proactive in finding answers.
      Sadly, I think it is very hard to find answers about ocular melanoma in the iris. OM is very rare, and in the iris even rarer. It also seems to behave differently, growing much slower, from what I have read. – (although my ocular oncologists says I need to watch for sudden dramatic changes in color and shape over months, so not sure who to believe?)
      I do know the first 2 years with this were very hard. I was obsessed and convinced it was cancer but at the same time couldn’t talk to people because it was a “maybe” cancer. When I did talk to people I couldn’t even say, “well I’m waiting for a biopsy result”, it’s always “I have something in my eye which might be cancer, but for now it’s probably not”.
      I think my doctor has calmed my fears a lot. She has told me statistically the chances are low, and that I am doing the best thing by getting it measured every year so there is a good base line if there are changes.
      There is an OM support group on Facebook which has also helped me immensely. It can be hard, and sad, and there are not very many with iris melanoma, (and even fewer that are waiting and watching a nevus like me), but they have so much information and advice! Some of them might be more help in finding good doctors and the different choices available.
      What ever you choose to do, stay in touch if you like, I felt so lonely when I first realized I had a nevus and that it could be cancer. With the Facebook group I know I’m not alone, which helps so much.
      Take care, Elizabeth

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