Like getting struck by lightning – TWICE

I know all of you have been anxiously awaiting our 3 month adventure in Europe and so have we.  However, we’ve postponed that until next spring for a different kind of adventure and we’ve decided to invite you along.  This morning we packed our bags and headed out on an 1150 mile trip to Rochester, MN.  I know you are asking yourself why we would be going there and to help you understand I’ll need to catch you up with what’s been happening these last four months.

William and I do lots of preparation for our big European trips.  I start shopping for the right technical clothing that will roll and pack easily into our backpacks.  The clothing will need to be comfortable and quick dry, the shoes need to be lightweight, and then William needs all his gadgetry items especially lightweight clip on flashlights.  We watch lots of travel videos and plan out where all we want to go and how we will get there.  We search Airbnb for the best places to stay.  And this year I would need to get my eyes checked and get new glasses for the trip.  So four months ago I went in for a normal eye exam.  And this is where the adventure began.

I knew something was up when the Eye Doctor took me back to see the Retina Specialist but when they made me call my husband to come down to the office immediately I knew it was pretty serious.  I had a detached retina but the really serious part was that the Retina Doctor could not “fix” it.  So the next week we were sitting in front of a specialist at Duke University Eye Center to see what could be done.

Perhaps you’ve heard on the news about the cluster of ocular melanoma in Huntersville?  At Duke, I learned that I had just joined that group.   Ocular Melanoma is an eye cancer that can be fatal if not addressed quickly.  The cancer starts as a tumor in the eye and can become metastatic throughout the body.   I have been very blessed with my case of Ocular Melanoma.  After repeated CAT and PET scans we learned that the Melanoma  had not spread anywhere else in my body.   My treatment choice for the tumor was very easy.  Most of my vision in that eye had already been lost and could not be restored so deciding to remove my eye was a pretty easy decision.  The cancer was contained completely in the eye and would be gone after an outpatient surgery.

Most people cannot even tell that I have a prosthetic eye.  And I can do with one eye everything I did before with two eyes.  It has had no effect on my driving nor my sewing or any thing else I do.   Here are a couple of pictures of me with my “new eye” and my new glasses.

I had never heard of Ocular Melanoma and for a good reason.  Less than six people in a million will ever be diagnosed with this.  It’s pretty much like getting struck by lightning.  You may have heard of someone  getting struck by lightning but what about getting hit twice?   Well I sorta got struck twice.  In the Pet scans the doctors kept saying they saw a little something in my neck.  They said a couple of my lymph nodes were a bit swollen.  So a couple of weeks ago after a biopsy of my tonsil, I received a  diagnosis of a second cancer.  This cancer was not rare at all but one that is has become very common.   It is caused by the HPV virus and the good news about this cancer is that it has a 95% cure rate.  Now that is pretty amazing!

After doing much research and discussing all available treatment plans with my primary care physician, Dr. Koohestani and my doctor at Duke University,  William and I decided to come to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to get what we believe will be the very best care possible.   Here is a rather lengthy discussion with the doctors I will see tomorrow at the Mayo clinic about the HPV-16 virus head and neck cancer.


We feel very blessed and led by God to be coming here to the Mayo Clinic and I’d like to ask all of you to continue praying for God’s healing grace for me.  I’d also like to ask you to join me in remaining positive and upbeat during this process as I try to discover God’s plan for my life.  I hope that by sharing this story I will be an inspiration to you or someone you know and that we all will grow from the experience.

We arrived in Rochester this evening and I cannot wait to get out and take pictures of this lovely calm and relaxed city.  It is beautiful here!   I’ve heard about the Mayo Clinic all my life and it is exciting to be here now.  Here’s the Airbnb my niece Sara Bruton found for us.  It’s just perfect for us and we both love it.

rochester apt

We also found a wonderful all Vegan restaurant called Old Abe’s Coffee House .  They serve vegan meats from the The Herivorous Butcher in Minneapolis which I have wanted to try for a very long time.

Old abe

William and I will continue exploring Rochester in the morning so we can share this lovely city with you.  My first appointment will be tomorrow afternoon and I will share more of our adventure after that.




13 Comments Add yours

  1. Melissa says:

    You got this, Mom!!


  2. Melissa says:

    Love you sis. In my prayers constantly!


  3. Jill says:

    We are sending positive thoughts and good vibes from Bethalto, IL. You are nothing, if not amazing. Such grace and calm acceptance of the diagnosis, at least on the outside! Taking the challenge head on and coming out the other side victorious. You make us all want to be better people & accept our own dilemmas. To recognize opportunities and be thankful for what we have. Go get ’em tiger!!! You have an army behind you….many prayers, Kenny & Jill


    1. Jill, the amazing thing is the same calm acceptance thrives on the inside too. I got this girlfriend!


  4. Jeannine Dennis says:

    Hi Rosa and William, The most recent issue of PEOPLE magazine has an article about this cancer cluster. I hope that you have a great visit to Minnesota and hope to see you both soon…. Jeannine Dennis


  5. Nancy Martin says:

    God bless you and William. We send lots of Maryland love!💓💓💓


    1. So happy for my Maryland Love


  6. Cherone says:

    Rosa, you know how much I love snd admire you. You give all of us the true meaning of grace and strength and the source … our Lord and Savior. Can’t wait to see the pics … love ya!


  7. Cindy Dowdy says:

    Sending prayers for a full and speedy recovery. My prayers are with you and William.


  8. Pam says:

    I”m so sorry for your diagnosis. You seem very up beat and sometimes I think that is half the battle. we will be praying for you and your family.


  9. Mindi says:

    Rosa, I would have never expected this news in a million years. Bless you for your upbeat attitude. Thank goodness your cancer was diagnosed in the early stages. Keep up the positive attitude and I will be keeping you in my prayers.


  10. Connie Moyer says:

    Rosa in my thoughts & prayers. I know God will take care of you. Love you.!


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