In Memory of Barb Strong
A letter from Jim Ryan:

3/21/2010

Dear Friends and Family,

A dear friend of mine and our family, Barb Strong, was diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma several years ago. I was unaware at the time that it was even possible to get melanoma in the eye. It is a rare and poorly understood cancer. Ocular Melanoma is the most common primary eye tumor in adults. Unfortunately, at least 50 % of patients diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma will develop metastatic disease to other parts of the body, which is universally fatal. Sadly, that was the case with our friend, Barb.

Barb learned of her diagnosis after a routine eye exam four years ago. It was one of those awful moments when your priorities abruptly change. Time suddenly shifts to life before cancer and life after cancer. I have been amazed at Barb’s ability to accept the challenges of fighting this disease. She remained strong, funny and vibrant. She was never a person to ask, “Why me?”, although she did sometimes express amusement at the absurdity of life. We shared Barb’s hopes as she and Scott pursued different treatment options. Barb’s passion for life, family and friendship continued even after a diagnosis of melanoma metastasis to the liver. Her bravery and belief that she would beat this disease remained unwavering. Due to her strength and resolve, I don’t think any of her friends ever accepted that she was actually sick. Outwardly, Barb was the same funny, kind and mischievous person that we all came to know and love.

Last fall, I asked Barb if she could recommend a charity that I would be able to raise money towards. She had suggested the Ocular Melanoma Foundation. OMF’s goal is to increase awareness and research funds for this potentially life threatening disease. I asked friends and family to support me as I ran a marathon in Washington DC. Barb, Scott and her children joined us, in person, on that trip. Our combined families had a great time in the nation’s capital. More importantly, we raised a significant amount of money to help the Ocular Melanoma Foundation with the goal of, one day finding a cure to this devastating disease.

Although I was excited about our initial efforts at fund raising, Barb continued her courageous fight against this disease that does not let up. Cancer and Ocular Melanoma in particular continues to do what it does. Spreading and robbing us of our loved ones. I decided to continue my fundraising efforts. I am asking everyone I know to help me with this mission. I firmly believe that if we can find a cure for this unusual and bizarre cancer, than we can find a cure for all of them. Please help me with this goal. I would be grateful if you could be as generous as possible but any amount is appreciated.

In a devastating turn of events, I received the news tonight that Barb has lost her fight with cancer. Our family is heart broken over the loss of such a wonderful person. I am also outraged that one of my closest friend’s who also has 2 small children would be taken from us in this manner. It is time to find a cure to this disease. I am more dedicated than ever to raise money for OMF.

Please donate to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation in memory of Barb.

Your friend,

Jim Ryan
If you have any questions or want further information about Warrior fundraising with OMF, please email info@ocumel.org.

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