On July 3, 2014 my dad and I sat in a doctor’s office and listened as the doctor told us I had a hereditary disease known as  Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). Along with this I was told that LHON was extremely rare, the vision loss I had been experiencing would only get worse, and there was no known cure.

I was 23 years old and had 20/20 vision my entire life I was half way done with graduate school, and living over 1,500 miles away from my family.

The doctor’s revelation felt similar to losing a dear friend or family member who had been with me every minute of every day and was all I knew. I was flooded with denial, tears, and so many questions.

How would I finish graduate school?

How would I continue to work?

How would I get around without being able to drive?

Why was this happening to me?

What I could have never known at the time of the diagnosis was how great of a blessing losing my sight was, and all the ways my life would improve because of it. With the support and assistance of God, my family, and friends, I was able to return to graduate school and obtain my Masters. This has allowed me to gain employment at large public universities and live out my passions while using my education in the work I do. I have also been able to continue my active lifestyle of running, hiking, and Crossfit.

One of the greatest gifts has been recognizing the way my story is not just about me, but about all of us. Through the loss of my sight, I have learned some of life’s most important lessons. Nothing brings me greater joy than the opportunity to share my story and these lessons. I have been blessed to do so with a variety of audiences covering a range of topics all around the nation.

I do not share my story as a cry for attention or as a means for pity, but one of triumph. I am proud of who I am. I lost my sight, but gained my vision, and that is the greatest gift in the world.

 

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