Jayme Bries believes in being positive. Despite a diagnosis of malignant melanoma in 2015, his message as a Cancer Survivor Speaker at the Dyersville Area Relay for Life event Friday, Aug. 2 will be one of hope.
“Part of my message will be to trust the people who know what they are doing,” he said. “The doctors in this area are phenomenal.”
After a bout with double vision in 2013, Bries went to an eye doctor in Dubuque, thinking he needed new glasses. “When he examined me, he found a spot on my eye he had never seen before. He didn’t know what it was but asked me to do a yearly exam with him so it could be monitored.”
Bries said a couple days after that visit his double vision went away and he didn’t need the prescription for new glasses. Despite that, he kept his appointment the following year with his eye doctor.
“The spot hadn’t changed, everything was good,” he said.
In 2015, he almost canceled his appointment. “My wife and co-workers asked me to keep it. We had a lot going on and I didn’t want to go. But I did.”
That appointment led to his diagnosis. A CAT scan showed a tumor the size of a clementine on his brain. Surgery in Iowa City removed the tumor.
CAT scans every three months and PET scans every six months couldn’t come up with the source of the melanoma. Bries said that changed in January 2019.
“I woke up with my eye swelled shut. I had an MRI scheduled anyway in Iowa City, so we went down for that. They discovered major changes in my left eye socket. Eventually, a surgeon wanted to do a biopsy, go through the eye, to see it. That’s where the melanoma started.”
After going back and forth as to treatment options and after speaking with several doctors, tests revealed Bries didn’t have melanoma, but a blue nevus. “It looks like melanoma but it isn’t. But the chances of it being in an eye socket are less than 1%.”
He knows the impact a diagnosis can have on someone. “If you haven’t had it, it’s hard to understand. Just talking with other people who have gone through it in some sort is a big help. A lot of times you can feel like you are out there by yourself.”
He continued, “I always look at the positive side of stuff. I always have. I have a big belief. I’m a survivor and I will always be a survivor. God will choose when he takes me. Cancer will not choose.”
The Relay for Life event, “Spread the Light of Hope,” begins with survivor registration and live entertainment by area dance teams at Beckman Catholic High School at 6 p.m., followed by the survivor celebration at 7 p.m., the live auction at 7:30 p.m., live entertainment by Casey Klein at 8:15 p.m., the luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. and the closing ceremony at 10 p.m.