I was a “lean mean fighting machine!” -Forrest Rose
I was a “lean mean fighting machine!” -Forrest Rose
I was born with retinoblastoma in December 1987. The OBGYN proclaimed that I was a “lean mean fighting machine!” My parents believed this as I looked like a picture perfect baby boy. Four months later I was being washed in the sink by my mother and she noticed that she could see straight through my pupil. As any caring mother would do–she brought me to the eye doctor and they diagnosed me with the cancer. The choice was clear–remove the right eye for fear of it spreading to my left eye and eventually to my brain. So my mother and father in tears made that tough choice.
Growing up as a youngster with one eye wasn’t so bad. In elementary school we were given fake monopoly money when we did well in class to buy candy and such every Friday afternoon. I was by far the richest kid in school as a means of making more money I had a buddy collect entrance fees to the boys bathroom as we charged other kids the opportunity to see the inside of an eye. On some occassions I would tell other kids that I was an alien when they got aggressive with me–this usually ended all fights promptly. I was called things like one eyed bart–cyclops–things of that nature. I believe this sort of early life helped me to deal with adversity as an adult. To this day I still have never been in a true down and dirty fight.
Adolescence was extremely interesting for me. I was a wrestler and team captain for the middle school I attended and even took third in sectionals–until my mother saw her nightmare happen–I was cheap shotted by another wrestler in my one good eye–this ended that sport for me in a hurry. I was also a motorcycle racer and swimmer and a soccer player. I did fine with these sports but never went too far with them. I consider myself handsome so young ladies never really turned me down when asked out. This adversity taught me that condience is key–even though I looked a little different than most–it never stopped me from taking chances. Now that I am an adult I feel like I am living with a modest confidence that is rooted deep. I never take a single second for granted because I know my condition could have been much worse. Growing up with one eye has helped me develop diplomatic skills and sales ability because I have had to make a tough situation work in a lot of different situations.
Adulthood holds its own challenges in finding a mate and landing good jobs after business school. I have overcome my biggest challenge in life–having the girl of my dreams fall in love with me. I am now engaged and living life better than most with two eyes. I just landed my dream job as an accountant for a large firm. The biggest obstacle in life is not your condition or the way other people view you–the tougest challenge is yourself. It is the ability to look at yourself in the mirror and say–you look good–you are someone that brings value to the world–you are not your condition but more so your attitude to the world.
So some key take-homes for mothers–fathers–brothers–sisters–teachers–and people living with one eye: tell your child they are no different–let them stand on their own two feet–let them make mistakes–do not gaurd them from the world–believe in them–love yourself–life is too short to worry–never settle–find your strengths–recognize your weaknesses–and above all never lose your confidence. Everyone has their gift and just because having one eye seems scary–does not mean it will stop you from achieving your dream and ultimate happiness.
Good luck to whatever is in store for you next.
What an Inspiration you are and how wonderful that you have achieved so much and are such a positive influence to so many. My daughter Jade is now 16 yrs old and she was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma in 1998 just before her first birthday. Jade lost her right eye at 9 months and doctors managed to save her left eye in the nick of time. Jade is our Miracle child, our precious gift which we cherish. She is a very bright and studious, very social and loves Art. She is a very creative young lady and I know that after she reads your story she will be inspired even more. Thank you for sharing your story,
There is a lot to say about the creativity aspect of having one left eye as it connects to the right brain. If she is not in music yet, she might be pleasantly surprised in how fast she can pick up an instrument (I did this with guitar and am still composing). Also, I found that billiards and sport shooting were strengths I had because of my single vision.
Hope this insight helps and good luck!
Hello my name is Shelby I am 22 years old. I too lost my eye to cancer. It was my left eye though, I was four years old. I loved reading your story Forrest. I wish I would have had as much guts as you to be showing off my eye. Haha Jessica I just wanted to reach out to you because I know for girls it can be alot tougher than it is for guys. All my guy friends would encourage me to do the type of things that Forrest would do but I was shy and would say NO WAY!! I am a young woman now and I feel like I don’t miss a beat. I had dating trouble growing up but now that I am a grown up I have no problem. I do all the things a normal girl my age with two eyes would do. I know as a mother you just want the best for your daughter and want her to be confident in herself. Its like Forrest said confidence is key! I wouldn’t say I am the most confident person in the world but I try. If your daughter would like to speak with me she can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. When i was her age i always wished i could reach out to someone like me to help me cope and make it easier. I wish the all of you guys the best of luck.