We at Know the Glow had the pleasure of speaking with Rachel Mayta. Rachel is a 31 year old Retinoblastoma survivor who bursts with energy, joy and positivity. She is bound and determined to reach others who are navigating the world with one eye in the hopes of spreading self love and acceptance.
Rachel was just 18 months old when, at a regular pediatric appointment, her doctor, Dr. Mashofski, noticed she did not have a normal red eye reflex. He asked Rachel’s mother if she had any photos with her of Rachel. Incredibly, one of the flash photos in her mother’s bag clearly showed a white glow in her eye. Dr. Mashofski was very concerned and sent them to see a specialist that very day!
They were seen at the OHSU Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. Here Dr. Mashofski’s concerns were validated. Rachel was diagnosed with unilateral Retinoblastoma. The only option given to the family at that time was enucleation. Less than one week after that initial pediatric visit Rachel had her eye removed. While this was incredibly difficult for the family at the time, the good news was that there was no need for radiation or chemotherapy. Rachel was cancer free.
Rachel says that she was never bothered by only having one eye. She went through grade school and high school without really noticing that she was different from the other kids. She believes this confidence was due to her grounded, loving family. She was surrounded by positivity and acceptance.
That all changed when she entered her twenties. Rachel had a surgery that left her with an eyelid that did not close completely or in unison with her other eye. She developed some insecurities about her appearance. These budding insecurities were inflamed after a few insensitive comments during a couple of her dates. She says it is amazing how just a few careless words can completely change one’s self-esteem and confidence.
For almost a full year she did not go on any more dates. She shied away from social interactions. To all who knew Rachel, this was a stark contrast to her usual active and joyful self.
This stage of self doubt began to heal when she was introduced to a very special little girl named Gracie. Gracie was fighting Retinoblastoma. A friend has asked Rachel to talk with the family as a source of support though her RB journey. When Gracie’s family was told that her eye needed to be enucleated, Rachel was determined to change her own attitude about living with one eye. She wanted Gracie to grow up feeling proud of her appearance. She now looked at her prosthetic as a sign of her strength and resilience.
Soon after, Rachel started an Instagram presence called One Eyed and Wonderful! (oneeyed_andwonderful)
Through this social media platform, Rachel has shared inspirational images, messages and videos that celebrate living with one eye. It has been nearly five years since this site was created and over that time she has reached out to hundreds of people and has been contacted by hundreds more. She is determined to answer every message that she receives.
Recently, Rachel posted a video that went viral with over one million views… and counting!
We encourage everyone to look at One Eyed and Wonderful. The messages are infectious. We at KTG feel honored to have met such a beautiful soul as Rachel. We know she has helped thousands of people around the world and expect that number to continue to grow.
If you are not able to visit her Instagram site, please take a moment to watch this one beautiful example of the messaging she shares. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=182247197316805
Keep being wonderful, unique and amazing you Rachel!