Brian Elliott – It Will Work Out in the End

I lost my eye to retinoblastoma thirty years ago, just before I turned three. I have vague memories of that time. I remember being in hospital, being in theatre and having something like a large leather bag over my mouth and nose to breathe through. Then I remember having a tantrum because my parents had to go home.

It must have been a tough time for my parents because we lived in Gympie, they both worked and had to travel a long way to visit me in hospital. I was in for three months, but I don’t know why.

My next memory is when I’m about five and in school. I took my eye out and couldn’t get it back in again. Mum had to come and put it back, and she wasn’t too happy about that.

Once I’d been given the all clear, I was just a normal kid, running around and playing all sorts of sport, like cricket, football and rugby. I think Mum might have felt a bit protective, because she wanted me to do ballroom dancing instead of rugby. I stuck at it for a bit, but went back to playing rugby.

I’ve never really had any problems with being teased, except from within my large extended family, but that was normal stuff and didn’t bother me. When I was thirteen, my vision dropped to a certain level and I had to wear glasses. I didn’t like that much.

Having one eye hasn’t affected my work at all. I’m a consultant for a maintenance management firm in Como. During my life, I’ve moved around Australia a bit. When I was sixteen, I built truck bodies and trailers in Brisbane, then moved to Darwin where I made roofing iron before joining another company as a maintenance planner. And then I came to Perth.

I think playing sport really helps with co-ordination when you can only see out of one eye. When I stopped playing sport for a few years, then started again, I noticed I’d lost all my co-ordination. You have to keep it up.

My motto is that it will work out in the end. Only having one eye becomes part of you. I’d like parents of kids who’ve lost an eye to know this.