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Andrea, 37

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Social media handles IG:

Andrea performing with Crossmen Drum Corps. Holding a blue and yellow large flag, wearing a light blue jumpsuit, smiling hair pulled back on a grass field. Visual impairment story, one eye, eye removal at 2 years old.
Andrea performing with Crossmen Drum Corps


Where are you from?

Suburbs of Philadelphia

Where do you live now?

About ten minutes

from where I grew up

Tell us a little about yourself:

I work in healthcare. I am currently in school to become a registered health information technician. I am a wife and have three fur babies (two dogs and a cat). I enjoy anything having to do with water (swimming, kayaking, the beach, etc), spending time with my family, and playing video games with my husband.

What’s your eye story?

When I was almost 2 years old, my parents noticed a white glint in my eye and took me to the doctor to have it checked out. I was quickly diagnosed with unilateral retinoblastoma in my right eye.

Luckily, we lived within an hour of one of the best eye hospitals in the country, Wills Eye.

Within a matter of days, I had my eye enucleated. The date of my surgery was also my parent's 5th wedding anniversary. Every year, when I wish them a happy anniversary, they say happy anniversary to me as well.

We had a prosthetic eye made for me as soon as I was healed. My prosthesis had to be adjusted a few times because it was too small. It would rotate on its own, or as I would say “my eye went crooked”.

My earliest memory from the whole ordeal is being in the ocularist's office and feeling scared. There was a wildcat stuffed animal in the waiting room that they let me take home with me, I named him Mike, and I still have him.

What has been the most challenging thing mentally?

For as long as I can remember, I have always been shy and quiet. I have heard that I was a little more outgoing prior to my surgery, but I was too little to remember. I’ve debated whether I naturally grew out of my outgoing personality, or if the trauma of surgery and losing an eye had something to do with it (I think it could be a combination of both). Growing up, I wasn’t the most confident kid at school.

I think subconsciously I put myself quietly in the background in school and group activities for the fear of being bullied. I never wanted to give the other kids a chance to notice my differences so I used my quietness to make sure I never stuck out. If I was ever the subject of bullying because of my eye, I was blissfully unaware of it. I think the hardest thing mentally has been wondering who I might have been if I grew up with both eyes. In many ways, I’ve had to mourn the loss of that version of me.

What has been the most challenging thing physically?

I didn’t grow up thinking about having physical limitations due to my eye. I have three siblings and my parents did a good job raising me no different than the others. I never thought of myself as someone with physical limitations because of my eyesight. It wasn’t until I was in 8th grade and I couldn’t get any medical professionals to sign off on the physical form for me to play lacrosse that I really noticed.

Some of the physical challenges I’ve faced were things I didn’t even realize until later in life. Like how my altered depth perception and larger blind spot probably contributed to why I struggled with playing sports like volleyball in gym class (or maybe I was just terrible at it in general!). Also because of my blind spot, I have some anxiety when it comes to crossing busy streets or changing lanes on the highway, but other than that I don’t have any problems physically. I’ve never held myself back from participating in activities that I love like swimming, photography, color guard, and drum corps.

Where are you now in your recovery?

I am fully recovered. No cancer ever showed up in my left eye or anywhere else.

One of Andrea favorite hobbies- photography. Out in nature, holding a camera, wearing a black hoodie and a red bandana, and eye glasses. she's turning back and smiling. Visual impairment story, prosthetic eye, one eye gang
One of Andrea favorite hobbies- photography

What piece of advice would you give to someone going through their eye impairment journey?

Remember that you can still do almost

anything with one eye that you can do with two! Be yourself! Don’t be afraid to be different; you are different and that’s awesome! Don’t let the fear of what other people might think or say dictate how you live your life.

Who is your eye surgeon and ocularist?

Wills Eye Hospital

How did you find EYEHESIVE?

On Instagram via the #oneeyegang hashtag

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