Randy S. is a cheerful man whose faith keeps him strong despite his diagnosis of diffuse choroidal melanoma, or melanoma cancer of the eye.
The Virginia Beach, Va., resident was diagnosed in September 2003 and travels to a retina specialist at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia utilizing services facilitated by Angel Airline Samaritans.
“I’m fighting it,” says the 51-year-old father, husband, and deacon of Virginia Beach Pentecostal church. He has two married daughters, Tabitha and Angelina, and a wife, Catherine.
“The disease is so rare, no one knows about it. The normal life expectancy is five years.”
Initially, Randy’s condition was misdiagnosed. He went to another doctor. “She said, ‘You have cancer,’” and referred him to a specialist at Wills.
Randy drove to Philadelphia, a trip of nearly 300 miles.
“They took my eye out and sewed a metal plate with radiation seeds to my eyeball,” then returned the eye to the socket.
He says the procedure was extremely painful and required a five-day hospital stay. Afterward, they removed the plate and stitches, covered the eye, and sent Randy home.
“I had to drive home. I couldn’t half see.”
For the appointments that followed, Randy rode a bus, for him a tiring means of travel. Then one day he was at the pharmacy getting medication and met someone who told him about Angel Airline Samaritans’ services.
“It was like a prayer was answered,” he said.