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Elise Lemieux Flikkema, 27

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

IG: @elise.outdoors

Where are you from?

Ontario, Canada

Where do you live now?

Brampton, Ontario

Elise as a child, eye impairment, eye loss, visual impairment, eye removal
Elise as a child- Eye Impairment Journey.

Tell me about yourself?

I’m a cookie artist! I bake and decorate sugar cookies for a living! I went to college for photography and graduated with my creative photography degree but realized taking photos for people took the love out of photography for me.

I only take photographs for myself now. I’m a wife and a dog mom! I met my husband in 2008 and we got married in 2016. I love being outside, going on hikes, and foraging for mushrooms but I also love a good night at home with some good food and a movie. Arts and crafts are my jam and I could do them all day every single day for the rest of my life! Overall I'm a very creative, outdoorsy person!

Elise in the hospital- Eye Impairment, Eye Loss, Visual Impairment, Prosthetic Eye.
Elise in the hospital - Visual Impairment Journey

What’s your EYE story?

When I was 18 months old my parents were giving me a bath when my mom noticed a white glow in my right eye. She thought it was weird so she called our family doctor and got an appointment for the next day! We went to the appointment and the doctor took a look and told us we needed to see a specialist. Once we were at the specialist the doctor took a look and knew right away that it was retinoblastoma. He explained to my parents what retinoblastoma was and booked me for surgery at a sick kids' hospital the next morning. Afterward, it was up to my parents to keep my socket clean until it was healed since I was just a baby. I eventually had an implant surgically put in behind my socket but my body rejected that and it got infected and had to come out.

My earliest memory of this was constantly rubbing my right eye while I was at daycare and my mom telling me not to because it was infected. When the implant was removed and my socket was finally healed I got my first prosthetic eye. I don't remember much of that either but I do remember it fell out at daycare a lot and my parents would have to come and put it back in.

What has been the most challenging thing mentally?

Dealing with the bullying that comes with it. In middle school, I had a really hard time with bullying and it got to the point where I believed what people were saying about me. I believed I was an “ugly one-eyed freak” when that wasn't true at all and I think because of hearing so many mean names I became extremely self-conscious.

I would say that's been the toughest for me, believing in myself and not listening to what other people say because it's not true! What they say about me says a lot more about them than it does about me.

Elise now- holding her prothetic eye in her hand. a black and white photo. Eye Impairment, Eye Loss, Visual Impairment,
Elise now - Visual Impairment

What has been the most challenging thing physically?

Nothing really! My parents did an amazing job making sure they weren't limiting me when it came to hobbies and sports. I grew up driving my dad’s ATV. I played rugby, volleyball, and baseball, I took riding lessons at the local horse ranch and I was constantly climbing trees as a kid!

I was a little worried about getting my license when I was of age but it was actually really easy. I have my license now and I love driving! If anything I sometimes walk into things or people on my right side but I wouldn't say that's hard for me to deal with, everyone bumps into things sometimes.

Where are you now in your recovery?

I'm fully recovered, living my best life!

[Edited for clarity by@jacobfromutah]

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