Two and a half weeks ago Matt was diagnosed with an ocular melanoma–a tumor in his right eye.

Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for many things.

Holding hands in the hospital after surgery

I’m thankful for Matt’s worrywart tendencies that made him notice his peripheral vision was blurry. I’m thankful that he didn’t listen to me when I said, “You’re trying to look at an impossibly sharp angle. Of course it’s blurry. There’s nothing wrong.” I’m thankful that his parents happened to be at the optometrist and made him an appointment for the next afternoon.

The optometrist, who diagnosed a detached retina, took the situation seriously and referred him immediately to an emergency eye clinic at a local hospital. As the optometrist predicted that Matt would likely have surgery that night, he came home to get me, so that I could drive us to the hospital.

I’m grateful for the ophthalmologist who saw us, even though we arrived quite late after his shift had ended. Expecting to hear “detached retina” and “surgery” and hearing instead “tumor” and “melanoma” is still a blurry moment.

The ophthalmologist referred us to Princess Margaret Hospital, one of the leading cancer centres in Canada and experts in this type of eye tumor. Five days after Matt’s appointment with the optometrist, we were being seen by specialist after specialist at Princess Margaret.

I’m thankful that Princess Margaret is within driving distance of the farm. I’m thankful that the staff is so amazing and their processes make everything so easy. I’m thankful for Canada’s healthcare that gives us access to all of this. By the time we left the hospital we had a confirmed diagnosis, a treatment plan and a surgery scheduled in just two days.

Matt had a surgery that involved placing a small disc in his eye called a plaque. The radiologist described the plaque as like a bottle cap filled with radiation. It is placed over the tumour and stitched in place. The plaque stayed in his eye for six days and was removed on Wednesday in a second surgery.

Wearing an eye patch and oxygen mask after surgery

I’m grateful for medical science that has come up with this treatment that is usually very successful and that allows Matt to keep his eye. I’m grateful that in most cases this type of tumor doesn’t spread (although we’re going through tests to try to make sure this is the case).

I’m thankful that Matt’s recovery has been smooth and we have family and friends supporting us both. I’m thankful that I’m now working at home for myself so I can easily juggle things to be where I need to be. I’m thankful that Matt and I have the relationship where we can get through this together with generosity, kindness, sympathy, openness, fear and humour for each other.

I’m sharing this situation because I want to remember this moment in our lives. I want to articulate gratefulness and thankfulness.

I also want to encourage everyone to go and get your annual check ups. Dentist, doctor, optometrist–it doesn’t matter how you feel. Go to the doctor. Matt has never had problems with his vision. Has never had glasses. It seemed like there was no reason for him to go to the eye doctor.

Most of the time, nothing is wrong. Great. Check that box. You did your annual check up. But maybe sometimes there is something wrong. And they notice it and you get great treatment and your life goes back to normal.

And that’s one final wish I will add this Thanksgiving, if it’s not asking too much. Amongst all of this gratitude, I will be very thankful if this treatment works, the tumor fades and my husband and I move on in health.

I’m going to be taking the rest of this week off from the blog. I’ll be back with more posts next week.

24 thoughts on “Thankful

  1. I’ve only been following your blog for a short period but already feel as if you and Matt are family. Please know that you both are in my thoughts and prayers as Matt recovers. You clearly are a special couple!

  2. Julia, we will keep you and Matt in our thoughts and prayers. Wishes for a quick and
    and complete recovery for Matt.
    Hugs and xoxo’s to Baxter, too😊😊😊
    Pls keep us advised when u return.


  3. I’m glad to hear that they were able to move so swiftly and I hope everything goes quickly and smoothly on the road to recovery. Your advice is spot-on and I’m going to go remind my husband that he needs to schedule his check-ups.

  4. Oh my goodness, what a shock for you both!! I’m so sorry that Matt has (or HAD) this tumour, and I hope the treatment is super successful. That surgical procedure sounds quite miraculous! Although I imagine it was very unpleasant to go through. You have a great approach, looking at things through the lens of gratitude. I’m sure it will stand both you and Matt in good stead in the days to come. We are holding you in our hearts with love and hope for a speedy and strong recovery.

  5. Thank you for letting us know about Matt’s need for surgery and that it has been successfully accomplished. I guess we take our health fore granted. I will be thinking about you both and the doctors who do such great things. Love, Auntie Anne

  6. Audrey has kept me informed on Matt’s journey. Your blogs have been so helpful with pertinent information. So happy things are going well. You certainly had a scare.

  7. Thank you Julia for sharing your personal journey as it really does put things in perspective. May you and Matt find peaceful recovery and wellness together with your love and supporting network of family and friends.

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