In a case that is baffling doctors and researchers, a group of friends from college all developed the same rare eye cancer, several years apart.

While ocular melanoma is extremely rare, affecting just six in every one million people every year, 36 graduates of Auburn University have reported that they have been diagnosed with the cancer including three women who were close friends in their college days. Additionally, 18 patients, all in Huntersville, North Carolina, also have the incurable cancer.

Juleigh Green told CBS News that she was the first of her friends from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, to be diagnosed with ocular melanoma at age 27, after seeing unusual flashes of light.

“[My doctor] said, ‘There’s a mass there, there’s something there, I don’t know what it is, but it looks like it could be, you know, a tumor,'” Green said. “It’s like you had the breath knocked out of you, you know?”

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Dear Ecouterre readers, We want to thank you for sharing this journey with us for the past eight years. Ecouterre.com broke ground in 2009...