FAIRMONT - There's no easy way to tell people you have cancer.
That's what Mayor Randy Quiring has found.
On June 18, he was scheduled for minor surgery for a detached retina, or at least that's what doctors thought was the problem causing him to see floaters, but an ultrasound showed the retina was attached. What they found instead was a tumor, specifically melanoma, the rarest and most dangerous type of skin cancer.
THUMBS UP — Mayor Randy Quiring poses outside City Hall, giving a thumbs up in support of fellow cancer survivors. Instead of people feeling sorry for him, Quiring asks that they just give him a thumbs up, or a hug, to let him know they’re praying for him.
"The good news is I've had all the PET scans and CAT scans and blood tests, and it hasn't spread," Quiring said.
The bad news is he will lose his right eye.
"Believe it or not, it's same-day surgery," he said.
The surgery will take place within the next four to six weeks, and Quiring does not plan on missing any council meetings. He will be away from his insurance office for a week.
"We've got way too much stuff in this town to complete. I'm not going anywhere," he said.
The only thing he requests from people are their prayers, and a thumbs up if they see him on the street. He's talking about starting an unofficial "big thumbs up campaign," as an everyday way for people to show their support to cancer survivors.
"Don't cry for me, just give me a thumbs up," he said.
For a week after the surgery, Quiring will be at home recovering, and then he'll be fitted with a prosthetic eye. It will be attached to his ocular nerves, so his new right eye will move in sync with his left eye.
Depth perception will be problematic for the first couple of months - it's already causing some issues now - but after a couple months, his left eye and brain will adjust and learn to compensate.
No chemotherapy will be required after the eye is removed, but Quiring will have to go in for regular cancer screenings for the next few years.
"The prognosis could have been a lot worse," he said.
Based on his reading, there is no real known reason why melanoma, a type of skin cancer, develops in the eye. One possibility is UV rays, though Quiring says he is usually good about wearing sunglasses and hats when outside in the sun.
"I always believe God doesn't give you more than you can handle," he said. "My faith in God is going to get me through this."
Since cancer does run in his family, his recent diagnosis has prompted Quiring to implement a few changes in his life, like cutting out many processed foods and increasing his vegetable intake. Some studies have shown vegetables, particularly the cruciferous variety, can help reduce cancer risk.
The experience has made him truly grateful for his physician, Dr. Steve Parnell, and the staff and equipment at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont.
"We're really lucky to have access to the medical care we have here in Fairmont," Quiring said.