Elisabelle St-Hilaire, 27 and an Ocularist
Social media handles:
Elisabellexo on TikTok
Where are you from?
Born in Quebec City, and raised in Connecticut and in Ontario.
Where do you live now?
Montreal, but I work in Ottawa as well.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am an avid gym goer, competitive powerlifter, ex-gymnast, and CFL cheerleader. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, I play guitar, and I love to cook and eat.
What’s your eye story?
I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at the age of 2. They removed my eye within the week of my diagnosis and I got a prosthetic eye about two months after enucleation. Losing an eye has helped me find myself, my values, and my beliefs. It has also helped me find the career of my dreams!
What has been the hardest thing mentally?
Accepting myself when I was a teenager. I cared too much about what other people thought of me and my prosthesis, rather than affirming what I thought about myself. If someone treated me differently because of my eye, I would judge myself rather than let go of that person. I do not do that anymore. Anyone who has a judgment about my prosthetic eye is someone who is not meant to be in my life.
What has been the hardest thing physically?
Having a minimized field of vision impacted my will to play team sports. Going through certain reconstructive surgeries has also been painful at times.
Where are you now in your recovery?
I am as healed as I have ever been although I still have moments of weakness. As I get older I feel like I am becoming wiser, and kinder to myself, and I find
more love for myself every year. I think this is a very long journey that has its ups and downs. I am at the point in my journey where I feel like I was truly meant to lose an eye because it has brought out so many positives in my life. It has forged who I am.
What piece of advice would you give to someone going through their eye impairment journey?