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#EyeGetDilated: Shea B.

Guest blog post by Shea Biurski, daughter of CURE OM Patient Steering Committee member and #EyeGetDilated advocate Sam Buirski:

I still vividly remember the moment my mom walked through the doors of my camp classroom. I had been preparing my presentation on neurology for the past three hours and now, all of a sudden, I couldn’t think of a single thing except the bandage covering the entire left half of her face. I wasn’t allowed to speak to my parents before I presented with my classmates; so, with a clear expression of fear and confusion, I presented my project without once taking my eyes off of my mom.

Later that day, after collecting my belongings and saying goodbye to my new friends, we were on our way home. We stopped for lunch at Tropical Smoothie and I, still in the dark about what was going on, asked my Dad what had happened to Mom. He told me, “Baby girl, momma just got a little surgery on her eye.” At the age of nine, somehow my brain immediately went to “cancer.” I asked and was told that yes, it was a type of cancer called ocular melanoma and that my mom had to have her eye removed. I was shocked and promptly burst into tears. That was my mom, how could she have this disease that could possibly rip her away from me?

It’s been eight years now and I’ve come to terms with the reality of the frequent arguments with insurance over MRIs, babysitting my siblings during the trips to Philadelphia for check-ups, and the constant reminders that my mom could relapse and be taken from me in an instant. It took me a while to comprehend why this happened and why it happened to my beautiful mother, who would do anything for anyone. I still don’t understand why it had to be her but I do know that my life has been immensely redirected because of her and consequently my experience.

I cried endlessly, unbeknownst to my mom, but somehow never saw her cry. I didn’t understand how someone could go through such a traumatizing event, yet be so strong and resilient. I would later find my mom crying almost silently to herself in her room because the pain was so intense. However, her children were her top priority and she would never let us see her in those dark moments. My mom is my biggest inspiration and she has taught me to live every day like it’s my last. I’m learning to cherish the small moments and tell my loved ones how much I love them whenever I have the opportunity. I’m still working on getting on board with the trips to see Santa at the age of eighteen, adventuring even when I just want to nap, and keeping the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy alive for my siblings.

Something I never realized until later was how this event affected my career choice. Ever since I could understand what a career was, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t know what type, all I knew was that I had to be one. In the years since the surgery, I have decided that I want to pursue Oncology. I thought I chose this because of my extensive research on different medical careers, but no, it was due to the exposure I gained at an early age of how deeply cancer can affect a family. I want to do everything in my power to alleviate as much pain as possible from families and children going through a tragedy such as a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects everyone close to them, especially family. I learned from my mom that even through adversity, you are stronger than you know and can conquer even the toughest battles. Today, I live by this and find strength in knowing that good can always come out of affliction.

Behind every OM warrior are the family, friends and loved ones who support them. CURE OM is dedicated to offering whatever support is needed to all those who share in the fight against OM. In this season of giving thanks and giving back, please consider a tax-deductible gift to show your support: