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.