My name is Jennifer Winkler and I’m the Valley Eyecare Center Arcadia patient care coordinator.
It’s only fitting that I’m working up the final draft of this blog on my one year anniversary of surviving breast cancer. I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on St. Patrick’s Day 2011. I’ve endured a double mastectomy, multitudes of medications and additional surgeries to be cancer-free. The world has stopped and started back up again several times…. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot in the past year, and would like to share some of that knowledge with you.
Two days into my diagnosis, I began arming myself with as much information as I possibly could about the disease that was infecting my breasts. Becoming my own advocate and having an expert team of doctors, (including the two I work for) made me take all aspects of my health into account – including my EYE health.
Breast cancer patients have many treatment options available depending on how advanced their particular brand of cancer is. Anti-estrogen drugs, aromatase inhibitors, and chemotherapy all may cause mild-to-severe damage to your vision.
While all of my doctors provided me with a wealth of information, no one mentioned the impact of treatment to you vision with anything more than a passing glance. I found out through the doctors I work for and my own research, that treatment can cause blurred vision, cataracts, loss of color vision, and complete vision loss. The most frightening of all; with regard to metastases, breast cancer is the leading cause of intraocular tumors. That’s right – breast cancer itself can even attack your eyes.
With all of the other things breast cancer patients’ go through, maybe our eye health is low on the list. Working at Valley Eyecare Center brought these concerns to the fore-front of my list. I wasn’t told any of this information by my cancer doctors. Fortunately, doctor’s Lindsey and Eric Clyde specialize in diagnosing all of these potential problems using unique screening equipment and their own expertise.
It’s important to establish a baseline vision screening much the same as it is to establish a baseline mammogram. We’re able to chart your eye health and determine if patients’ have experienced a related side effect to treatment from one visit to the next.
As crucial as it is to be your own advocate for treatment to be as successful as possible, ALL of the facts need to be on the table. What we hope to do is arm patients’ with the information they need to be proactive with their vision health, not reactionary.
Not only do we have state-of-the-art technology at Valley Eyecare Center, many of us have a very personal attachment to aiding in this fight. Not only am I a survivor, but several staff members have mothers, or other family members and friends that have battled, or are currently battling this horrible disease.
Finally, to end on a personal note, I’m not doing this for my own self-aggrandizement or any type of financial gain. Bringing attention to all aspects of patient care is what this is about. I also truly believe it is a small way to give back to a community of warriors and survivors that unfortunately continues to grow by the minute. It is also my way of saying thank you to the wonderful team of people continuing to help me each and every day.
Just take charge of your life and of your health; it’s the key to survival….. Trust me.