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PopEye, Our One-Eye Gang Inmate: Retinoblastoma

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Greeting EYEHESIVE Community,

My name is James Andersen, but my friends call me PopEye. I earned that name at a party one night where "Hey pop your eye out" turned into "Hey PopEye" and it has stuck ever since.

I'm a 44-year-old father of four and was born and raised in Hot Springs Arkansas. But at this point, I reside in the federal Bureau of Prisons. It will never be my home but it is where I'm housed. I'm not a creep-o just a drug addict who got caught up. I've been clean now for over 4 years.

I lost my eye when I was 18 months old. The doctors diagnosed me with Retinoblastoma and sent. meto St. Jude for cancer treatment. St. Jude saved my life and I've been cancer-free ever since.

James holding his prosthetic eye, in all grey standing again a grey prison wall
James holding his prosthetic eye

I grew up with only one eye and don't even remember the period of my life when I had two eyes. So to me having one eye is normal.

However, what wasn't normal was the way I was treated by other children. Many of you know that children have no filter and will call it just how they see it, and they will pick at the flaws of other children.

So I was picked on for much of my young life. That is until I learned to fight I still can not stand a bully. But in junior High school, things turned around. Everyone wanted to see me pop my eye out. so it became my inroad to being excited as "normal"

The most physically challenging aspect of having one is to me depth perception. As a young man, I wanted to play sports. But objects with one eye may be closer or farther away than they appear!

So I would end up catching the softball with my face. Side note here... Softballs are NOT SOFT!!!

But to be honest with you I've never let me having one eye hold me back from doing anything that I wanted to do.

I hunt and fish, ride motorcycles, operate heavy equipment, drive cars, and do many things that take depth perception.

For those of you that are new to having one eye please be patient and know that perseverance is a virtue. You can teach yourself to do all kinds of things, it just takes time.

The most mentally challenging aspect for me was when I would meet someone for the first time. You know when you see that really beautiful girl and you would like to go introduce yourself?

But you know that when she looks at you she will see your eyes, therefore seeing your flaw and not seeing you, so you just don't go.

Well, what I do is walk up and say something cheesy like... Hi, my name is James and I'll bet you $100 to a date that I can lick the pupil of my eye. She will be thinking... What did he just say?

Then you pull your eye out and lick the pupil. Yes, she will freak out and tell you to never do that again. But 90% of the time the next thing she will say is... What happened? Now she will look past your flaw and the rest is up to you!

Or when you go to a job interview and the person you need to hire looks you in the face, sees your eyes, and looks away. How do you overcome your handicap and get the ball back in your court?

When I introduce myself I point my flaw out to them. Hi, my name is James, and I have a prosthetic eye. Yes, one is fake but the other one works well. You just make it okay for them to look in the eye again.

You see you have to figure out a way to turn your weakness, handicap, or flaw into your strength. Learn ways to let it build you up as much as possible!

Jame Andersen wearing all grey stand again a grey prison wall, bald with a goatee
James Andersen

Remember that in tough times people will often find their true selves because you have to dig deeper into your inner self, more than ever before.

I am a spiritual person and I'm of the Asatru faith. The All-Father Odin has one eye. He sacrificed his eye for wisdom and understanding. I say that if one eye is good enough for the God Odin then it's good enough for me.

Also, I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. You may not always see the reason in the moment, but with time it will all fit together perfectly.

I know that's how it is for me. As I look back over my lifetime having one eye. I can see how it forced me to be a stronger person and to deal with the adversity that life so often places in my path.

I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this brief story of my life. I'm sure that I'm the only inmate in the EYEHESIVE community and I am grateful to be here. Sorry, but I am unable to respond to any of your comments. However, if you wish to write me and share your story my info is:

James Andersen #07253-010

US Penitentiary Leavenworth

P.O. Box 1000

Leavenworth, KS 66048

If you choose to write me please use a white envelope and white paper because anything colored will be turned away. Also if you wish to send a picture feel free. Just make sure it's a regular photo and not photocopy on regular paper or it will be turned away.

Thanks again and I pray the Gods bless your path

Your One-Eye Brother


Written on: 9/20/2023 8:30 PM

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