Getting the news

Having been referred to Sheffield eye hospital, it was a long old wait before my appointment last Thursday (7th March) but in reality I couldn’t have asked for a quicker referral. I fully expected to head to Sheffield on my own, thought it would be a quick appointment and I would spend the rest of the day having a mooch around the shops…. there is a really good vintage and second hand shop there that I have wanted to visit for ages, I think i’ll have to stick to browsing their website for now!

In reality, they day was pretty intense and I was there all day and so I was super grateful that Mr me-myself-and-eye decided to take a day off and take me down.

The actual ins and outs of the day are pretty boring, the aspects that stood out for me are:

  • I brought the average age down in the waiting room by approximately 30 years.
  • Taking a book to read was (in hindsight) an error as I was pretty much blind from 0920 until i went home (lesson learnt!)
  • Trying to crack some jokes with the very serious Dr is like trying to make a rock cry….
  • Just because a Dr wears ‘jazzy socks’ does not mean that they have a ‘jazzy’ sense of humour.
  • Who knew that when you have anaesthetic gel in your eye, you can have an ultrasound probe put on your actual eyeball without it hurting….the strangest feeling in the world…
  • The NHS staff, and the bloody wonderful team at Sheffield Hallam Ocular department are out of this world. –

So in a nutshell I was officially diagnosed with a Ciliary Body Melanoma in my left eye. The tumour is pretty big and it is about to grow through the white of my eye (blugh) and i have ‘tobacco dust’ floating around also…. Apparently this has nothing to do with smoking but some kind of strange Dr speak for parts of the tumour floating around my eye…. which is a nice thought… The recommended treatment for this *cancer* is total removal of the eye and a prosthetic put in it’s place with a specialist lens put in which eventually matches my other eye.

So many questions, so many tears, so much snot…..Fortunately after having my liver, kidneys, gall bladder scanned, it hadn’t spread anywhere else so in the grand scheme of things, losing my eye is nothing compared to what some people have to go through.

The first couple of questions that came into my head when I had had the official news were:

  1. When can i run again? – bloody runners, one track mind
  2. What happens if i’m sick, will my eye fly out?
  3. Will i end up being like a lizard with one eye looking one way and the other one going the other way?

Rhona (my cancer nurse) is unbelievably wonderful and answered my questions without even batting an eyelid (‘scuse the pun) and gently asked if I had any slightly more serious questions, which obviously I didn’t at that point and left them for Mr me-myself-and-eye to ask.

So here we are, I am booked in for eye extraction (i think that makes me sound bionic) on the 20th March…. it’s all a bit surreal to be honest… I am having major lows combined with ‘i’m fine, i’m fine’ which is quite frankly exhausting. I have a last ditched attempt at a sub 20 5km for a while on Thursday and i am overwhelmed by the reaction of my friends, family and community who have quite frankly been awesome and I am forever indebted to all of them.

Over and out for now peeps!


A background

Maybe a bit of background to me, just in case any one is remotely interested!

My name is Hannah, I am a 38 year old mum of two, 6 and 7. I run a little not for profit organisation called Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons UK.

I run and I really like it. I have run and been active pretty much all of my life. My family all run, cycle, surf, climb, play rugby, hockey, tennis…. you name it we’ve done it. Running has got me through the best and the worst parts of my life *shudders remembering 2 babies under 2* I have run at an ok club level (18.50 parkrun and 18.37 ish 5km) and I have run when I had nothing in the tank, just to get out of my head. Plagued with injuries and a very much ‘can’t be arsed’ attitude over the last two years, I was on the up….. running was getting easier again, I was feeling the fire in my belly and loving the feeling of an eyeballs out session (oh the irony…)

I am also a Yorkshire woman through and through and I LOVE Yorkshire. The grittiness, the beauty, the people, my family and my community. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world, which is ironic as I spent most of my 20’s desperately trying to get away from the place! Much of this love has been born through beginning Mini Mermaids as it has shown me the wonderful side of humans, it’s also where I met ‘him indoors’ and had my two chiblets.

My life is pretty unremarkable, but I like it and I felt that all was going well until I got the news that everyone fears. You have cancer.

Bed side manner.

“That’s not good, that’s not at all good…” It’s not really what you want to hear from your doctor after waiting 4 hours on a very uncomfortable plastic chair in a hospital which doesn’t have phone reception…. Let me take a step back and talk about what had happened up until that point. Two weeks previously I had noticed that my left eye was getting a bit blurry and so I toddled off to my local Specsavers, fully expecting to be told that as I was knocking on 40, my eyes were starting to wear out and I would need some new lenses in my terribly overpriced frames that I had bought 3 years earlier. It was on one of those days that was like summer had arrived, a glorious day and I remember that I had dragged my summer wardrobe out and had put on my really funky new bright orange Nike Air Jesters which brightened up my day by just looking at them! I literally had no idea what was to come next. My optician was a lovely young woman who had not long been qualified, we were chatting and she was talking about how proud she was at passing her exams and how Specsavers had offered her a job straight after she had qualified. I love talking to people and finding out their stories, what made them decide on their careers, what they like to do in their spare time and generally learning about them. I actually feel very lucky that she was my optician that day as it was clear that she saw ‘something’ in my eye that wasn’t meant to be there. The lenses that she was putting in front of my left eye In those very stylish glasses that they have, were not changing my vision at all, nothing was making it clearer it just looked like I was looking through a block of ice. After a while she asked if she could put in the stuff that makes your pupils look like you’ve had a cracking night at Gatecrasher (one for the over 40’s there) and got her supervisor to have a look. They obviously knew what they saw but couldn’t tell me and sent me straight away up to St James’s hospital in Leeds to the eye casualty department. I had a sense that something was up as everyone started looking at me in a strange way but as I was quite blind due to the drops and a bit annoyed that I had to ring the husband to come and pick me up I didn’t think much more of it. Fast forward to the next morning when I rock up at St James’s bright and breezy at 9am, only to discover that I would have a 4 hour wait as I wasn’t an emergency, I settled in for the long game and played few rounds of eye spy to myself (oh the irony) The doctor I saw was really great, around my age, a bit dishevelled but friendly and possibly a bit bored of seeing the same eye problems…there was a student in the room young, bright, energetic, you know, all the things that a nearly 40yr old, knackared, mum of two dislikes….Another round of making my pupils look like I had gone at it hard the night before and on the with bright light and microscope….. that’s when he said it….”That’s not good, that’s not good at all….. what the hell is that?” all the words that you definitely want your doctor to say….and then THAT’S when he said it….. “So I think that you have a melanoma in your eye….” errrrrrrrrrr sorry WHAT? “Yeah, not what I expected to see at all…..” Riiiiggghhhhtttttt, what the actual F***?” I saw the students ears (well with one eye I could) prick up at soon as she heard the word melanoma and she was itching to see it, hovering over the doctors shoulder, craning her neck to see what he had just seen…..”Do you want to have a look?” I asked her, nodding emphatically she jumped into the chair and had a good old look, making the appropriate gasping and oooing noises. After the excitement had died down in the room, I tried to concentrate on what was being said to me. I heard ‘melanoma’, ‘Sheffield’, ‘eye removal’ followed by, ‘is that all ok?’ Nodding and mumbling something like “yep, great, thank you so much, sorry for taking up so much of your time” (I am so bloody British) I scurried out of the hospital and drove home, not remembering any of the drive. So that was last week, and a LOT has happened since then. I think i’ll save that for the next post!