Fall City family living abroad now planning life around cancer

FALL CITY - While the end of summer may be a lazy time for most families, the month of August has not been a relaxing one for the Falconer family.

In the past two weeks, Guy and Leigh Falconer have gone from nation to nation, state to state and doctor to doctor, sorting out the plan for their lives and how to save Guy from a rare disease that could take the vision in his right eye, or even his life.

"Just when you thought you could take your health for granted [this happens]," Guy said.

The Falconer's predicament is the result of a big year of change in their lives. They lived in the Valley for 14 years prior to moving to Milan, Italy, last summer to teach at the American School of Milan. Guy, who taught seventh-grade humanities at Chief Kanim Middle School, got a similar job in Milan and Leigh got a job as a librarian. The couple wanted to give their two boys, Ian, 17, and Colin, 15, an overseas experience, and Milan was more than they expected. The school has students from all over the world, most from families working for large organizations with offices in Milan or from large international organizations like NATO, and the boys have adapted well. They picked up the language easily and consider Italy home.

Their sons came back to the Valley this summer to work and the family planned to reunite earlier this month to head down to Southern California for a brief vacation and to visit relatives. Along the way they planned to make stops to look at colleges for the boys.

While in the Valley, Guy set up a time to meet with an optometrist. He had been having some vision problems in his right eye and suspected that it might be glaucoma. When he went to the doctor he was told it was probably something more serious and was sent to a specialist in Seattle who identified it as a tumor. The tumor, about as big as shirt button and twice as thick, was malignant and could spread to the rest of Guy's body. The tumor threatened his life, and its location threatened the vision in his right eye.

The diagnosis floored Guy and Leigh, but it was a familiar story. Guy's father had a similar tumor 25 years ago and he ended up having one of his eyes removed. The tumor was treated too late, however, and Guy's father eventually died of cancer.

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