Hearing the news that your eye has to be removed is like having a rug ripped out from under your feet.
Suddenly, you’re overwhelmed with feelings – shock, numbness, disbelief, anger, sadness, fear and anxiety.
And then the questions begin:
Is there much pain after surgery?
What will I be left with?
What happens next?
Will my life change dramatically?
What will I look like?
Who can I talk to about how I feel?
This last question is common for anyone facing eye loss. Gaining support from someone who has been through the same experience can alleviate fears, ease distress and provide valuable coping skills for the future.
To date, we’ve addressed this need through our buddy system.
This works by matching people who have similar eye conditions, but who are at different stages.
So, for example, when someone with a melanoma of the eye has surgery pending, we’ll match them with another person with this condition who is much further down the track.
And the same goes for parents of kids with retinoblastoma or micro-ophthalmia. They are linked with other parents who know what lies ahead.
But this buddy system doesn’t cater for the friends or wider family who might not be coping with what’s going on.
And having a similar background isn’t always enough.
Knowing how to respond to a very distressed person is a skill in itself. What should you say? And what shouldn’t you say? What is the best way to help?
We’re hoping to answer these questions at a Peer Support Training Day on October 18, run by Michael Tunnecliffe. Michael is a Clinical Psychologist with experience in dealing with trauma.
Michael will give an insight into the trauma of losing an eye, and spell out specific ways of helping.
Everyone is welcome.
If you’ve lost an eye, are about to lose an eye, are a parent of a child in this situation, are a family member or partner, are involved in the buddy system or want to become involved, then plese come along.
Flyers will be mailed out closer to the time with the venue and time. So pencil Saturday 18 October in your diaries.