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Amy - Ocular Cancer

Amy - Ocular Cancer

Meet Amy and read about the playlist she made to help her through cancer. Find out her other hobbies and what it was like to go through proton therapy for ocular cancer. Read Amy's answers to our 5 Questions.

What do you tell your friends about proton therapy?

I’ve been very open about my cancer journey, so I told my family and friends quite a bit about it, plus I documented my journey on Facebook with a countdown each day of how many treatments I had completed. First and foremost, I have told anyone who will listen how incredible the staff at SCCA Proton Therapy Center have been since the first time I came to the Center. Having cancer has been a difficult, emotional time and everyone at the Center has brought me peace of mind and helped make the experience much better than it could have been. It is something I will never forget. As for the actual proton therapy, I tell people it was like being in the middle of my own sci fi movie: the technology and equipment were jaw-droppingly incredible. Between the equipment and the mask I had to wear over my face, I kind of looked like an alien getting ready to go back to the mother ship. Ken and Clif from my treatment team did a really great job explaining to my family and me how it would all work, and explaining all of the steps to me in great detail before I even went in for my first treatment, which helped ease a lot of the anxiety that I initially had. They let my family come back and see the set-up and take pictures, so not only could my family understand how it all worked, but so could I when I saw the pictures. The team also showed me the scan they took the first time, and how it matched up with my initial treatment, so I could understand what they were doing. Once I had the first one over with, the rest of the week was much easier. I was shocked that I couldn’t feel anything when the beam was hitting my eye, nor could I see it; it almost made me wonder if it was actually doing anything! But my team assured me it had and that it couldn’t have gone any better!

How did you find out about proton therapy?

I had actually never heard of proton therapy until Dr. Alison Skalet, my ocular oncologist at OHSU, told me about it and recommended it as the best treatment for my cancer and the location of my tumor. Once I knew more about it, I found out that a family friend had gone through proton therapy several years ago in California, and that it was very effective and treating his cancer.

What are your hobbies? Were you able to continue during treatment?

I only had to have one week of treatment, so my time in Seattle was fairly quick and didn’t allow me a lot of time for activities. I am fortunate, because I have family and friends in Seattle so I was able to see a lot of them while I was there. Plus we had perfect fall days, so one afternoon we were able to go to Ivers on the water and enjoy the view of Lake Union and downtown. Additionally, I am a huge Oregon Ducks fan and the week that I had my treatment just happened to be the week leading up to the Oregon vs. Washington game in Eugene. I wore a Ducks shirt every single day to treatment to show my support of the Ducks in Husky land; it was a fun way to make the experience a little lighthearted in spite of why I was there. The staff at the Center figured out by mid-week that I was a big fan, so we had some fun trash-talking about the game for the rest of the time. The Ducks won the game that weekend, which was a perfect way to wrap up my week of treatment!

What is the most interesting thing about you that would surprise your treatment team?

I don’t know if it is the most interesting thing about me, but I love to travel anywhere near or far. Last year I went to Ireland for nine days, including part of the trip by myself, and it was one of the best trips I have ever taken. The west coast of Ireland and the Oregon coast are two of my very favorite places in the world; both are absolutely beautiful, full of magic and wonder, fill my soul and bring me peace. I go to the Oregon Coast a few times a year and look forward to going back to Ireland again, hopefully someday soon.

Tell us about a quote, a person, a song or anything that inspired you during your cancer journey.

Oh gosh, there are so many people, quotes and songs that have inspired me on this journey, especially friends and family who have shared their own cancer journeys with me. It’s brought me closer to some that I hadn’t talked to in a while.

I love so many inspirational quotes and I’ve shared quite a few on Facebook throughout my journey. There is a part of scripture that has always brought me peace, never more so than through this journey; it’s from Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” One other quote that really inspired me, as it relates to having cancer, is part of a speech given by the late sportscaster Stuart Scott: “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”

Amy's Playlist

When I found out that I had cancer, I created a playlist called “I Got This” that includes a variety of songs that have helped me over the last few months. It is a pretty eclectic list, including worship and inspirational songs, motivational songs, “fighting” songs and the songs that always make me feel better when I hear them. It has songs from MercyMe, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Andy Grammer, Joshua Kadison, Eminem, and more, including even Broadway and Disney songs. The two songs that really inspire me right now are “Rise Up” from Andrea Day and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked; both songs help me to remember that I WILL get through this.