By Michael “Jake” Beausir

Jake in kindergarten with new eye

It all seemed normal to me. I was just a little boy who was taking weekly trips to the hospital. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that I was different from everyone else. Something set me apart from my friends. I had cancer.

At nine months old, I was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. This is a cancer that attacks the retinas in both eyes. I went through months of chemotherapy and countless laser surgeries. When I was not feeling sick, I was the happiest toddler you could meet. I was too young to know that while these treatments were saving my life, they were also helping define who I was as a person: to be brave, confident, and never a victim of my circumstances.

My treatments went on for four more years. When I was five years old, I went in for my last surgery, the one that would remove my left eye. From that point on I was forever to live with a prosthetic left eye and a right eye with minimal vision.

Every teenager wants to fly under the radar and be like everyone else but doing that legally blind and with a prosthetic eye is almost impossible. Instead of focusing on my fears, I looked outward to how I could inspire others. I began volunteering for the American Cancer Society by raising money for Relay for Life. I found my greatest impact was helping children see that they can overcome any of life’s obstacles, and I became a mentor to foster children. I have spent five years working with these children and showing them that being disadvantaged doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams.

Jake graduation with cap and gown

I have always loved sports. Although I am right-handed, I learned to play many sports left-handed to be able to see the ball. I was heartbroken when I had to give up baseball due to my vision. However, I found I could succeed playing golf and put everything I had into becoming the best golfer I could. Making my high school golf team as a freshman sent a booming message. Yes, a legally blind student can play a varsity sport competitively. Although I needed assistance finding my ball, I became one of the top scorers for my team. Being named Captain proved I was a strong leader as well.

I don’t like to think of my eyesight as a disability. I like to think of it as a way to show others that I can accomplish anything I want no matter what the situation. I want people to see that it is okay to be different. It just requires more effort and motivation to be great. What does the future hold for me? I can’t wait to find out because my past has taught me that I have no limits. In June, I will be attending the University of Central Florida where I have the opportunity to pursue a career in Business and Sports Management. I also have the opportunity to show others that no matter what hardships we have in life, and we all have them, we can choose not to be victims. We can choose to triumph.