I lost my eye to cancer as a baby – now I have a glow in the dark eyeball

Taking pictures of your little one is a key part of them growing up.

It charts special moments, but for one family, it revealed a terrifying illness in their daughter.

Rachel Mayta seemed perfectly healthy until she was 18 months old and a doctor spotted something strange in her eye.

He asked her parents for pictures of her and saw a sure sign that something was amiss.

Her right eye appeared to be emitting a glow in the image – a key sign of cancer or eye disease.

In October 1991, Rachel, now 32, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

This is a cancer that is found in the retina and most commonly affects young children.

Doctors explained there was no chance of saving the eye and it had to be removed urgently to prevent the illness spreading.

Four days later, the youngster had the eyeball removed and luckily, she says she doesn’t remember much of her journey.

Now Rachel is raising awareness of the condition and has even grown the confidence to experiment with different prosthetics.

She was fitted with her first prosthetic when she was 20-months-old and recalls not being massively affected by having just one eye and always wore a prosthetic.

However, children nicknamed her “Cyclopes” as a result.

Rachel Mayta in 1990.
Rachel Mayta in 1990.
Jam Press/@rachel.mackenzlee

But it wasn’t until her mid-20s that she suffered any self-confidence issues, after having a surgery designed to replace the implant holding her prosthetic in place.

Rachel, who lives in Portland, Oregon, said after surgery and the healing process, her eye lost most of its ability to blink.

“A surgery where I had expected the outcome to result in more mobility of the eye and a more realistic looking prosthetic became the exact opposite.

“Prior to this surgery most people wouldn’t have even noticed my eye, but afterwards it was very apparent.

Rachel Mayta
Mayta is raising awareness of the condition.
Jam Press/@rachel.mackenzlee
Rachel Mayta
Mayta gained the confidence to experiment with different prosthetics.
Jam Press/@rachel.mackenzlee

“I was very aware of the people looking at me, I had people say mean things and talk to me differently”, she told NeedToKnow.

The hairstylist said she had previously been seeing a guy, who after a few dates told her that her eye freaked him out and that he wouldn’t be able to see past it.

She added: “I was so unhappy with how I looked that I really didn’t do much outside of the home for almost a year.

“And then one day it hit me: I am who I am. I made the active choice to stop saying mean things to myself and only allow myself to feed my brain positivity and tell myself good things.”

She has now gained newfound confidence and has decided to explore different options – and has become creative.

Rachel Mayta's prosthetic eyes.
Mayta shows off her funky prosthetics on TikTok to her 368,000 followers.
Jam Press/@rachel.mackenzlee

She said: “I am so grateful that I found my occultist Christina King at the Center for Ocular Prosthetics in Portland – she is incredible.

“I really wanted a way to show people that I’m happy with who I am and I am open to questions and didn’t want to hide the fact that I wore a prosthetic.

“I love gold and had wanted a gold prosthetic for a while, and when I brought it up to Christina, she was not only supportive but excited about the project.

“Since then, she has made six or more fun eyes for me including glow in the dark, holographic and gold-leaf eyes.”

Rachel Mayta
“I really wanted a way to show people that I’m happy with who I am and I am open to questions and didn’t want to hide the fact that I wore a prosthetic,” Mayta said.
Jam Press/@rachel.mackenzlee

Rachel shows off her funky prosthetics on TikTok with her 368,000 followers.

Her most popular clips have racked up more than 11 million views, and Rachel says she is committed to helping end the stigma of visible differences.

She added: “I love to make people laugh on TikTok and shed some light on what life is like having a prosthetic through humor.

“Being able to laugh about the things that make us different is such a vital tool. Be exactly who you are 100 percent of the time and you’ll have nothing to hide.”

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.

I lost my eye to cancer as a baby – now I have a glow in the dark eyeball

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