Meet Mara. My Optometrist Calgary met Mara through social media, and her message of positivity in the face of dealing with a difficult diagnosis really resonated with us. Here is her story in her own words.
Hello! My name is Mara Lauren. I was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) in 2010. Recently, I have been diagnosed with Ushers Syndrome, which not only includes vision loss, but also hearing loss.
When I was first diagnosed with RP it was such a life-changing experience. I was essentially told I was going blind and there was nothing I could do to prevent this. The initial diagnosis was made by a doctor who had little education on the subject, and was very callous in his approach. His uncaring delivery caused me to feel hopeless and lost and sent me into a depression for a 2 year period. That stage of my life was tough, and I felt as if I didn’t want to live anymore. Eventually, I was connected with the right people and wonderful specialists who helped to give me hope, who let me know that this eye condition shouldn’t stop me from living my life and that this diagnosis didn’t signal the end.
In 2014, I started to really look at my life and I knew I had to change my mindset. The depression I had experienced was the jolt I actually needed to start focusing on what really matters, and to completely revamp my life by staying positive. I’m excited to say, with the help of my caring husband by my side, that I have done just that. I started getting involved with The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as a support group leader, and I am part of The Foundation Fighting Blindness (both the American and Canadian organizations). I have also recently joined the Trailblazers Tandem Cycling Club, a registered charity that provides recreational cycling opportunities for people who have limited or no vision. In the summer of 2016, I participated in Cycling For Sight, a fundraising event with The Foundation Fighting Blindness to find cure for degenerative blindness. Completing this ride was a goal I set after my diagnosis, and it ranks as one of my biggest accomplishment thus far. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I was able to complete the 91km event!
In general, I try to live a fit and active lifestyle by exercising and eating healthy, but of course every now and then I must indulge! Another big aspect of my life is traveling, spending time with loved ones, and just enjoying life to the fullest. I strongly feel that no disability should hold us back from anything our hearts desire. We can still do it all!