Eye See Warmth in my Future   December 20th, 2011

I have had a number of folks write me to ask if all was okay since I’ve not posted anything here in the last several weeks.

For now, I will ask you to assume, for future reference, that no news is good news.

The reason I had not written anything is that whole-brain radiation is singularly unexciting, but it does wear one out. It significantly increased my fatigue and reduced my appetite. I ended up losing another seven pounds making me even skinnier than before.

Fortunately the whole brain radiation is over with since last Thursday, and I will have another brain MRI in early February once the brain has healed to see how things are going. There’s no reason to expect things not to look good then since whole brain radiation is a common treatment for the tiny tumors and bleeding I had. And my energy levels are slowly returning to their pre- brain radiation levels and the same goes for my appetite.

And being home next week on Bonaire will only improve my health, I am sure.

One of the interesting side effects of the TIL/TBI treatment I had in early October was that later in the month I noticed that my distance vision had deteriorated but my near vision had improved. When I asked my doctors about this, they had not heard of this being a side-effect and recommended that I go to an optometrist to get my eyes checked. We did that a few days later at Lenscrafters. The optometrist took the following retinal images. If you look at the right image, you see a dark blob near the center. This is called a chorodial nevus (scientific name for a freckle in the eye). The optometrist, taking my recent history of melanoma into account flagged this as something to have my oncologist look at more closely, just in case.

My left retina image

My left retina image

My right retina image - note the freckle below and to the right of center

My right retina image - note the freckle below and to the right of center

Yesterday I had a follow-up on a freckle on the back of my right retina at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and got a clean bill of health on the nevus (woohoo!) They took new photos for reference, and I have a follow-up in late March to make sure it continues to look good. One interesting thing the doctor said yesterday was that the freckle looked like it was turning white on the edges – a condition known as vitiligo, where pigmented skin cells lose their pigmentation. Apparently vitiligo is not uncommon in people who have undergone TIL treatment and I have found a few other external places on my body where it appears (including, believe it or not, the tips of all ten of my toes.

Jake with dilated pupils and new facial hair growth

Jake with dilated pupils and new facial hair growth

As a footnote to the whole vision thing, this past Sunday morning I discovered that I once again needed reading glasses to read the newspaper and that my distance vision was back to normal (20/20) and this was confirmed at the eye doctor’s yesterday too. Go figure.

So, you may be asking yourself “what’s next?”

In the short term there’s a high likelihood that I will lose all the hard-won stubble on the top of my head again as a result of the whole brain radiation treatment, but I’ll get to keep the fur on the upper lip and chin (see image above).

And shortly thereafter I expect to be warm and sweating on Bonaire enjoying a nice time at my home with family and friends. We are awaiting a Turducken here in Boston tomorrow that we plan on bringing to Bonaire with us to feast on for Christmas with a few friends.

We get back to Boston in early January (we’ll be bringing our Antarctic jackets and hats with us from storage there so we can survive the bitter cold that is still likely to face us in Boston). I have scans and a consultation with my oncologist planned for the second week of January, which will hopefully confirm what physical touch is still confirming in my thigh, namely that the TIL cells are still attacking my cancer cells and as well as preventing new growth.

I would expect my next post to be in the middle of January. Until then, no news is good news.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 at 18:30 and is filed under Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.Both comments and pings are currently closed.

42 Responses

December 20th, 2011 at 18:40
Wallace Says:

Have a safe trip and enjoy the warmth. Here is to a healthy New Year.

December 20th, 2011 at 18:41
Ann Phelan Says:

the furkids will be thrilled to see you..blessings..the sun will do you good..to feel warmth and island bliss

December 20th, 2011 at 18:47
Jean Says:

Have a wonderful and relaxing return home to Bonaire! Enjoy every moment you can.

December 20th, 2011 at 18:47
LaDonna Says:

Those dilated pupils are a bit wicked looking! But it is nice to see you looking more normal with your facial hair re-appearing :D enjoy your trip home….and plan on me visiting you once again when you return in Jan. :D Hugs hugs and more hugs!!! :D

December 20th, 2011 at 18:48
Cynde Says:

Jake, had a smile reading this post :) Sounds like good news all around. You are the definition of a melanoma warrior. Have a fabulous time on Bonaire. Enjoy the warmth, sun, family and friends….and of course, the Turdunken!

Love and hugs,


December 20th, 2011 at 18:50
Jessica Says:

Hurrah for good news! And that dilated eyes photo? A bit freaky, my friend! Merry Christmas and happy Chanukah. xo Jessica

December 20th, 2011 at 18:51
Steve Smith Says:

Thanks for the update. Enjoy the warmer weather at home and post a few pics if you get a chance.

Happiest of holidays,


December 20th, 2011 at 18:57
Barbara Leary Says:

Glad to have an update with you taking what sounds like another turn for the better! Have a wonderful trip home!

December 20th, 2011 at 19:26
Corky and Sy Says:

Hi Richters,
We were just about to email and inquire about you, so many thanks for the update. Sounds positive. Enjoy the warmth and pleasure of being back on Bonaire. May 2012 bring only good things, including NED.

December 20th, 2011 at 19:28
Kay Powers Says:

Safe travels! I’m glad you will be feasting on a good old Turducken! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family. I look forward to your update in January.

December 21st, 2011 at 09:51
Jake Richter Says:

Thank you Kay for bringing Turduckens into our lives :-)


December 20th, 2011 at 19:35
chosun Says:

Hello Jake,

It’s always great to hear from you. As I’ve said before, your positive disposition is absolutely amazing a you face so many trying situations. We’re very happy for your return to Bonaire, the warmth & sun will be wonderful for you and your family.

Big kisses to Linda & the kids!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year



December 20th, 2011 at 19:36
Karen Says:

Have a great trip back to Bonaire…so glad for the positive updates!
NED is on the way!
-Karen & Rog

December 20th, 2011 at 19:39
Kelly Says:

Love the Van Dyke !!

December 21st, 2011 at 09:51
Jake Richter Says:

Kelly – re: the Van Dyke, It’s the only area where my facial hair will grow right now :-)


December 20th, 2011 at 19:49
Denise & Teddy Says:

‘no news is good news’ .. keep on healing Jake.
Nice eyes. As you may have guessed, I am partial to freckles.
We wish you and the family wonderful home time.
<3 hugs

December 20th, 2011 at 21:32
Margreth Says:

Can’t wait to see you, have a safe and quick trip back home.
Kisses and hugs

December 20th, 2011 at 21:43
Leslie Says:

Merry, Merry!

December 20th, 2011 at 22:33
hannah Says:

To NED! Have a great trip.. Relax, and get better.

hugs to all,

December 20th, 2011 at 23:36
Pam Says:


Glad to hear ‘no news’. Miss having you guys around & hope we get to see you while you’re here. Could that possibly be the first Turducken on the island?

Hugs & kisses to you all!!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays.
Pam & Carl

December 21st, 2011 at 09:50
Jake Richter Says:

Hi Pam,

We have had many Turduckens on Bonaire. Our friend Kay was the first to introduce us to them, and we’ve been big fans ever since. The tough part was convincing friends to bring them down for us :-)


December 21st, 2011 at 00:01
Mercy Says:

Na vaše zdraví a šťastný nový rok ! A little Czech for you….it says, Here’s to your health and a happy new year!!

December 21st, 2011 at 09:48
Jake Richter Says:

I was able to read that, Mercy. Thank you!


December 21st, 2011 at 07:09
Vince D Says:

Glad to hear it. Enjoy your stay at home on Bonaire. I’m sure it will do you a world of good to get back. Here’s to a better 2012! I’d recommend you start off the new year with some ribs/beef (medium rare) and some lobster. You weight will come back.;>)

December 21st, 2011 at 08:38
Judy Workman Says:

Wonderful news, Jake! Here’s to a happy, healthy New year and it will definitely be a Merry Christmas by being home-home. Hope you all have safe travels, no delays, and lots of hugs and love when you get back to Bonaire. Dangle those “white” toes in the surf and enjoy!

December 21st, 2011 at 09:18
Tish Says:

So glad you’re on your way home soon. Give a holler when you’re ready for company. Here’s to NED in 2012!
Love and hugs,

December 21st, 2011 at 09:48
Jake Richter Says:

Hi Tish,

Just give us a call at 717-4112 when you have time to drop by. We’re tied up with errands most of the day on the 27th and 28th, but otherwise have no fixed daytime plans.


December 21st, 2011 at 12:44
Meryl Says:

Yeah! Thank you for the update…Enjoy HOME,Family and Friends and the Turducken!!! Not an easy package to take on a flight!
I can see the difference in your photos and even though you say you lost more weight your face looks stronger and healthier!
Merry Christmas Richter’s!! And a Very Happy New Year!
Love you…
Meryl and Steve

December 21st, 2011 at 12:58
Todd Burdette Says:

Hi there. Good news on the retinal freckle and other areas. I loved the calendar with photos/paintings from both Richters. You’re both so talented! It’s at my desk. So, Thanks. Looking forward to good news in 2012. Everyone in our office follows updates from your blog with great interest and sends their best wishes.


December 21st, 2011 at 13:37
Jamie Says:

Great news, Jake! Sending you lots of healing thoughts for great scans in January! Mine are January also, I am feeling good news for us both in 2012! Have a fabulous time at home.


December 21st, 2011 at 15:23
Darlene Ellis Says:

Hi Jake
I am glad to hear that no news is good news! I hope you have a safe and uneventful trip home.Merry Christmas to you and the family and have a very joyous NED New Year!!!!
Big hugs to all,

December 21st, 2011 at 18:23
Howard Sobel Says:

Hi Jake,
Good news on the Nevis. I thought that was a neighbor of Bonaire. Glad your heading back to Bonaire to celebrate the holidays. Enjoy the warm weather. You deserve it after the sunburn you got from the treatment. Linda and I wish you a HEALTHY, Happy and Joyous Holiday and New Year. Hopefully that warm sunny climate will get you back up to speed. Suspect you’ll be wearing a large brimmed Straw Topper. Looking forward to that post:)

December 21st, 2011 at 18:36
Nathalie Says:

Best wishes for a warm and happy Christmas on Bonaire, and a New Year with NED.

Nathalie & George

December 22nd, 2011 at 11:49
karin Says:

How wonderfull that you are able to spend the hollidays at Bonaire! Enjoy and have a great time! Your Christmas will be warm! I wish you all the best for 2012, to ned!!!

December 22nd, 2011 at 11:59
Karen Says:

I wish you and your family wonderful and relaxing holidays at home, and that your continued journey to NED will be realized in 2012! I too have continued on my journey. I’ve had a left axillary dissection, 3 weeks of high dose radiation, and this Friday is the end of the 4 weeks of high dose interferon infusions. I too will be home for the holidays :)

December 23rd, 2011 at 10:33
jolaina Says:

Hi jake. I too went to nih and had til last yr in june. Got brain mets in aug after til and got booted off. Had pinpoint rad a yr ago and got another last month and had pinpoint again. Also tumor showed up in (r) eye while i was at nih. I know all to well what your going through. I have had 13 tumors removed and done yervoy 2x. Looking for something new now. I hope your trip home is good and i will be following your blog and praying for you. I also have written “notes” on facebook about my experiences. Im jolaina walling on there. Please stay strong! Fight! Have a great christmas.

December 23rd, 2011 at 11:25
Ford Says:

Merry Christmas Jake — we are thinking of you and your whole family this Christmas, and we love the art calendar. Thank you!!

December 23rd, 2011 at 17:13
Anne Lambert Says:

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season in Bonaire and NED in the New Year.

December 26th, 2011 at 03:05
rolf ehrlich Says:

Jake, I too can’t help but think that Bonaire, with all the island means to you, will have a beneficial impact on all you have gone through. You are quite a guy to face this thing as you have, and write about it in the way that inspires. I could not help but ask myself when reading your inputs, if I could ever be as strong. Blessings to you and yours…as always

December 26th, 2011 at 18:52
scottbae Says:

Warmth…. and wish you a good time back in Bonaire Jake :)

December 26th, 2011 at 18:56
Tracy Griffin Says:

A slightly belated Merry Christmas to you! I’m glad to hear no news is good news! Wishing you the very best in the new year – to NED! We hope you are having a wonderful, relaxing time at home.
Tracy & Mike

January 2nd, 2012 at 10:48
Patty Says:

Happy New Year to all of you. I trust being back on Bonaire has been very theraputic (sp). The changes on the island are interesting with more to come.
Your postings are truly amazing! 2012 will be a NED year for you………(an unknown friend). We arrive on Jan 7 for 3 months. Travel back safely.