by Rick Arkush
Dear Bascom Palmer,
I owe my life to the doctors who have given me the opportunity to fight this fight. In particular, Dr. David Tse – the doctor from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute who removed my eye.
I wear a patch over my left eye. For a long time, it was a reminder of what I had been through. Now, it’s a reminder of what I can accomplish – and what I want my legacy to be.
Eleven years ago, my family and friends knew that something wasn’t right. My left eye was drooping. If it wasn’t for them forcing me to see a doctor, I wouldn’t be here today.
I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called lacrimal gland adenoid cystic carcinoma.
I was lucky enough to become a patient of Dr. David Tse and Dr. Pasquale Benedetto at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. I was only the 14th patient they had encountered with this type of cancer, and was told that in order to survive my eye would have to be removed. It was shocking.
The truth is … I was really lost. But you learn that you have to make the best of what you’re given. Losing the eye saved me from death. When I realized that – and it took me a long time to realize how blessed and fortunate I was – that’s when it became part of my normal life. I got to live again. If I didn’t have it removed, I would have been dead in about two years. There was no other option.
Earlier this year, Dr. Tse told me his dream is to make realistic and affordable prostheses through the use of a 3D printer. This printer could be used all over the world for people who could not afford a prosthetic eye, or for people who don’t have insurance to cover this type of expense.
I knew I had to thank him for saving my life, and I came up with the idea of “Save The Eye (STE)”, which uses the three letters of his last name. Now, it’s playing out – and it’s how I envisioned it.
My dream is to get 50,000 people to give $10 each to cover the cost of the printer and also the staff to operate it. I want my legacy to be to fulfill Dr. Tse’s dream – which is now my dream – and help people all over the world that probably would never get this opportunity. That would mean so much to me.
I’ve learned that this is what it’s all about; to give back, it feels so cool. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced.
This is a labor of love for me. I’m truly blessed to still be around.
Dr. David Tse and his son Dr. Brian Tse, both Oculoplastic Surgeons with Bascom Palmer visit the Naples Bascom Palmer Eye Institute a couple times a month and see patients right here in our community. It’s extraordinary having access to such renowned physicians.