Cate celebrates her daughter’s

Where do I begin? So many people have contributed to my gift of vision this past year. They say it takes a community to raise a child. In my case, it took a community of compassionate professionals and individuals to provide me with the amazing gift of sight that I have to write this letter today.

I am a writer, both professionally as a grant writer and personally as a poet and story teller. I have had the pleasure of being published on multiple occasions and am proud when anyone takes the time to read my prose. My financial earnings support my family of three — myself, my elderly mother, and my daughter. I have been fortunate to be able to sustain our family with the proceeds of my written work. Seeing is everything to me.

When my vision began to fail in my right eye two years ago, it was a slow and mysterious process. I was by all respects a young woman of 50 with the eyesight of someone in their 70s. I went to one professional after another, trying to find the answers as to why this was happening. Multiple tests led to the resounding statement, “I / we don’t know why this is happening”. The “Why” part of the puzzle seemed to be the issue that stumped everyone that I had sought counsel. Everyone, that is, until I was referred to Dr. Joseph Tauber. He effectively determined the “Why” part of my condition and quickly moved to the “How” can we manage and improve the condition. The answer was a cornea transplant.

As February 2012 approached, I began preparing for the very necessary cornea transplant. Out of the blue, my left eye – my good eye began to show signs of illness. The pressure shot up to dangerous levels for no explainable reason. That is where the next big boulder dropped on me – glaucoma. Immediate surgery was required to save both eyes.

This is where multiple blessings and random acts of kindness appear on the path to full sightedness I have today. Hence, I begin the gratitude to so many people that have made this possible:

To: Dr. Michael Stiles who selflessly and without consideration to financial gains performed the surgeries installing two filtering systems that have controlled the glaucoma in both of my eyes and to Dr. Bret King who continues to monitor the systems with great honesty and compassion.

To: Dr. Joseph Tauber who has given both professionally and compassionately in a tireless effort to ensure I remain a sighted and productive individual.

And last, but certainly not least –

To: Heartland Lions Eye Banks (now known as Saving Sight) whose tissue donation had made my sight a reality. And to the family of the loved one who, during a time of great sorrow, demonstrated the selfless act of tissue donation. All the gifts and blessings that preceded my transplant would have been in vain, had it not been for your act of kindness. Your contribution has given me the most irreplaceable gift of all: sight. Equally, I am now an organ/tissue donor and promote donation at every opportunity presented.

Since my surgeries, I am maintaining a healthy level of sight and taking nothing for granted. I am back to driving without being in fear of the person who entered on what use to be my blind side. I see colors and hues so vividly, whereas before they were dull, lifeless, and quite undefined. I have continued to write and have written several funded grants that have given back to my community several fold. As I said earlier, “Seeing is everything to me” and I am so grateful and blessed to share my gift of sight with the world.