Terry loses his eye to a Choroidal Melanoma

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Terry’s Challenge with the loss of an Eye

This is the story of my husband Terry Oldfield, a musician and composer who has lost his eye this summer due to the discovery of a Choroidal Melanoma. I hope that this is helpful to others facing the huge challenge of enucleation (Eye Removal) and Monocular vision.

A Shocking Diagnosis

It was just Christmas we discovered that Terry had a malignant choroidal melanoma in his right eye.

I still remember the night before, we were sitting on our deck in the semi-dark sharing some philosophical musings from the day. Terry said he had been seeing lights flashing across his vision on and off for a few weeks now, and that in this soft light he had a dark spot of obstructed vision.

“Do you think I should get my eyes checked?” he asked.

“Absolutely, tomorrow.” I replied.

It’d Been A Huge And Wonderful Year

It has been a huge and much celebrated year with our Music and workshop Tour through Europe. We had launched our new album Namaste – Songs for Peace. I had also published and launched my memoir “Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude” . In Shining Through I shared my journey through the grief of losing my son to suicide. It has been seven years since losing my son and I am now living a life of absolute gratitude.

Life I have come to realise can never be taken for granted, each day is a gift.

Check Up

We’d been aware of a freckle on the choroidal area of Terry’s right eye. He’d been having six monthly check ups by the optician. So the next day we organised his overdue eye examination. The optometrist told him the freckle had doubled in size and had changed form. Concerned, he referred Terry on to a specialist immediately. I drove the car to the next appointment as Terry’s pupils were dilated like saucers from the drops administered prior to the eye examination. He was feeling like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Shock 

After further examination the specialist announced in a very flat and matter of fact way that Terry had a choroidal melanoma, that he was 99% sure was malignant. “I’m Sorry.” He added.

I was standing on the other side of the room. We were leaving for India in a couple of days and this was a real Sneaky Louie. We looked deeply at each other. I felt calm for it all seemed surreal.

“And how is this treated?” Terry asked.

“I will refer you on to a cancer specialist for eyes, but I think he may suggest enucleation, or removal of the eye. Unfortunately, the melanoma is wrapped around your optic nerve, which makes it more difficult to manage otherwise.”

What To Do?

We explained we were heading to India in a few days to run a retreat and he told us to cancel the retreat and see the specialist as soon as possible. Terry and I walked outside and I held his hand and told him whatever he wanted to do was ok with me.

“Remember our policy though.” I said quietly. “Nothing has to happen in a hurry, don’t be bullied into rushing this.”

“I want to go to India. I need time.” Terry replied clearly.

We made the appointment with the oncology specialist on our return from India and headed home to digest the impact of the news.

Has The Cancer Spread?

The one thing that concerned us more than anything else was whether it had metastasised to other parts of the body. We had been told that Choroidal Melanoma usually moves into the liver and lungs first. To put our minds at rest we immediately organised a PET-CT scan and liver ultrasound. As a mindfulness teacher I understand we only have this moment now and this is the gift.

Thankfully, our doctor rushed the tests through, still the two nights of waiting left Terry digesting the impact of a terrible uncertainty. He was living with the very real possibility that the melanoma could be in his lungs and liver already.

What If

We promised to support each other in remaining present and not going into what ifs. Yet living with the mind and its nature of thinking is always challenging. Terry was left feeling his life was on the line and any future plans for our music touring were out the window. This was a daunting and dark place to be and over the next few nights Terry experienced disturbing dreams and there was no getting around the fact that his life would be changed forever by this.

Mortality

Mortality is a fragile thing and never before had everything seemed so uncertain. Definitely time to accept the impermanence of all things. .

Good News

To our relief the tests came back all clear which offered the peace of mind we had hoped for to enjoy our time in India We headed off, keeping the news of Terry’s eye to ourselves. India always feels like coming home to us and we share a mutual love for this land of fakirs and mystics.

India and Ayurveda 

Our India Retreat creates a heart space where we delve into the mysteries of life with our group. Each attendee also enjoys the nurturing of daily Ayurvedic treatments and fantastic healthy food. With morning yoga, meditation, mindfulness, singing and music we relaxed into life by the Arabian Sea. We always enjoy sleeping to the sound of the waves rolling on in. Together with our group enjoying visiting Temples and Ashrams. A gentle gratitude and acceptance of surrendering to the path ahead settled into our being.

Ayurvedic Therapy

Terry received two weeks of Ayurvedic therapy with the wonderful Indian doctors. If he had to have the operation, we wanted him in peak health for the best outcome. India provided us time to digest the impact of the news and come to terms with a possible enucleation or removal of his right eye. There is nothing like your life being challenged to help you see what is really important in life

Back in Australia

Back home again, we visited the specialist and surgeon. They announced that the only way to preserve of life was to remove the eye. This would ensure no seeding of the tumor (metastases). This seriousness was due to the optic nerve involvement. Our Indian surgeon in Australia, was a kind, intelligent and quiet man, who patiently answered all our questions. He was the head of a whole team of doctors specialising in this rare form of Melanoma.

Choroidal Melanoma

Very little is known about choroidal melanomas as yet, but it seems it is not sun related like other Melanomas. Terry agreed to donate part of his eye and Melanoma to further study being carried out right here in Brisbane.

We had three days before the operation and so we made the most of it. Terry wanted to enjoy his last three days of binocular vision. We walked in our favourite forest on the last day and I shot this video.

Face to Face With Our Mortality

As we age we come face to face with our mortality, and we can see things quite differently. The carefree sense of immortality may either fade into a calm acceptance of the natural ageing process or raise fears around the loss of youth and facing death.

I have to say each moment is a bonus. Life can only be now so being fully present and making the most of each moment is even more important now.

This year great artists of our lifetime have passed over including David Bowie, Prince and our beloved Leonard Cohen. Being a 9 year it’s the end of a cycle. We wondered what it would hold for us.

Growing Old Gracefully Together

Terry and I talk about growing old gracefully together. About  happily embracing the wisdom that comes with age. We’ve both been drawn to spiritual life, the esoteric, to nature and awakening to self-realisation since our teens.

We still hope to grow older together but more importantly is enjoying every moment we have now.

Please leave your comments or questions below and I will answer as best I can.

with Love Soraya

18 thoughts on “Terry loses his eye to a Choroidal Melanoma”

  1. sad news, my work colleague lost his eye about ten years ago in a DIY accident and he still dos the things he’s always don it upset him at first but once he adapted he still enjoys life ind lives it to the full.

  2. Queridos amigos, lamento lo sucedido a Terry, lamentablemente son situaciones de las que humanamente no podemos evitar, sin embargo la reacción por parte vuestra ante lo sucedido , es digna de admiración y ejemplo para todos nosotros que seguimos vuestra vida, tanto la personal como la musical, no sé si sois conscientes de la magnitud de vuestro trabajo , lo bueno que nos dais día a día, y nos hace soñar con un mundo mejor.
    Quiero deciros, que cuando escucho vuestra música tengo que cerrar los ojos para sentir su mensaje, para sentir el amor y la energía que transmite, quiero dar mis mejores deseos para vosotros, que aunque la vida pone trabas en el camino siempre hay quien ofrece una mano para ayudar a seguir disfrutando de ella, y para mi sois esa mano .
    Muchas gracias por todo y espero que Terry se recupere pronto.
    saludos
    Antonio Jiménez

    1. Namaste Antonio,
      Thank you for your beautiful message. Terry and I really love to hear back from people who are touched by the music that comes through. We are all on human family and share in the desire to see more love, compassion and grace flowing out to all who are suffering.
      We love our work and are more inspired to continue when we see the ripple effect of our love of the creation that flows through us.
      Terry is recovering well now, but it as you can imagine has been a great challenge. I am loving him up and our day revolves around much singing and playing music here in the forest for love.
      with Love Soraya

  3. Cher Terry. Je te souhaite tout d’abord une bonne annee et une bonne sante. J’ai eu la chance de te rencontrer trois fois en Belgique et je trouve que tu es un homme formidable, d’une gentillesse incroyable! Tu as egalement eu un courage exeptionnel face a ton operation. Grace a toi et ton frere Mike, tu as contribue a changer ma vie. Je t’aime. Namaste. Alain Prophete

  4. Thanks for sharing this journey – life becomes clearer following loss, I learnt this after losing our son to suicide and my husband having prostate cancer. Radical surgery for him and life – easy choice. All positive vibes for you and Terry for the future.

    1. Thank you Trish, I feel you. Like you I also lost a son and also my brother to suicide. Yes the journey of grief if allowed in washes us clean, and allows light into areas of darkness. Ultimately it offers us an opportunity to sit in a place of presence and gratitude. You may be interested in my recently published book Trish – From Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude.
      with Love and Gratitude Soraya

    1. Hello Melody, Thank you for sharing this. When I write the next blog I will add a link to your site. And thank you for the positive wishes and healing. Best Wishes Soraya

  5. I received the same news as Terry, that my eye needed to go due to choroidal melanoma in Oct 2016. It was great reading your blog as I could relate to it very easily. I’m keen to read your part 2 of the blog! It’s a rare disease, only 5 people in every million, so I want Terry to know that he’s not alone in this struggle.

    1. Sorry to hear that Myles, it certainly is a journey. I will write part 2 when Terry receives his prosthetic eye in 2 weeks time. I think this has been the most challenging period so far for him and us.
      Thanks for sharing.
      with Love Soraya

  6. Hi Soraya and Terry,

    Reading this brought up a lot of grief which seems ever present lately.

    I see you two as a couple to admire. I find both of you very ‘real’ and I feel love, expansion and acceptance whenever I’m around you.

    I have been in a dark completion state for some time, having the same numerology as the planet, I have let go of everyone I know especially my children. (Just before Easter my plan is to put everything into storage (not much left as I’ve been cleaning out the past) and start walking. I’ve been in a garage with everything I own and two tiny pups that keep love and joy in my life, apparently over welcoming my stay with my 2nd daughter. ‘It’s always perfect anyway’.) ‘Into your hands I lay my life’ is the state where I’m at, with no idea what will happen and where I’ll go.

    Guess which album is on my small stereo? I usually play it most mornings and sometimes through the day as well and sometimes when I’m finding it difficult to drift off to sleep. ?

    I haven’t been connecting with anyone, being blown away by people around me, so I only found out about this now. I finally came onto your website to check some lyrics.

    I burst into tears feeling my own fears, shock and disbelief. Right or wrong I see you two as the Golden Couple (and Golden people in your own right). I was thinking a couple of days ago about how I’d feel if you separated your way … I was searching for examples of love that I knew and would aspired to if I have another close relationship – it’s been 17 years.

    I know this is a very personal experience and feel grateful that Terry has you Soraya by his side. I really hope that your next steps come with ease and grace. I know you will know that we (royal term) are all with you and keeping you both in our hearts and arms.

    Love Nivannii

    1. Namaste Nivannii,
      Terry and I just read your post. Sorry to hear you have been feeling so low. Grief is a strange visitor and not an easy one when she hangs around, however if allowed to sweep through to completion I find it always directs us toward greater light and truth. Terry naturally went through a tough time of grieving his lost eye but he is now feeling so much better now. Acceptance has replaced that feeling of loss and we are inspired to LIVE life to the full. We are working of a beautiful new album called Temple Moon. Glad you have been enjoying ‘Namaste’.
      Sending you hugs and hoping you are inspired again to enjoy the simple gifts of nature and presence – if your passing give me a call and pop in for a chai.
      We will be opening our home for a philosophy meditation evening soon. Creating conscious community is important. Do remember you are not alone, and you are loved…
      Bless you. Soraya

  7. Hello,

    Just wondering if you will be writing the part 2 to this. My mum has very recently been diagnosed with OM, and enucleation is the only treatment they advise due to the size of the tumour. She is in Scotland and I in Australia, I plan on travelling home for the operation in a few weeks. I have been searching the Internet for answers and unfortuanrlty stumble across some not so good stories. I feel inspired by you and terry and truly believe she has a good chance of defeating this horrible disease. We are yet to find out if it has spread, however, they seem certain it is all contained, at the moment. I would love to hear how terry is now, and if he has any prevention routines to stop the chances of it spreading? I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, Natalie

    1. Hello Natalie,
      I hope you got good news. Eneucleation is certainly a big challenge but with mindful loving care and a positive attitude it can be ok.
      Terry is doing really well. We are now traveling in Europe and I walk on his blind side. It annoys him that he is clumsy sometimes due to missing things but he is happy and amazinly well adjusted. Feel free to email me for more. As a naturopath myself Terry has had certain protocols and he is doung really well on them.
      Best wishes Soraya

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