Tommy Pham’s Journey
The National Keratoconus Foundation is joined by Tommy Pham, outfielder of the San Diego Padres, and Dr. Edward Bennett, OD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri St. Louis. In this video, Dr. Bennett conducts a one-on-one interview with Tommy Pham.
Tommy shares his experience as a professional baseball player living with Keratoconus. He discusses his diagnosis, subsequent treatments, and how he copes with a vision disorder while excelling in a career that requires sharp vision.
Don’t Let KC Be Your Story – Gary Abud Jr.
It’s been about 25 years since I was first diagnosed with Keratoconus (KC), and over the years it has been a big part of my story but, at one time, it was my story.
I can still remember my parents telling me, when I came home from school that day in fifth grade, how my teacher had contacted them to inform them I was squinting to see the board in class. They asked me if I was having trouble seeing the board, but I was oblivious to the fact that anything was blurry at all.
After all, you don’t know what you don’t know!
Very soon after, I sat in an ophthalmologist’s office with a diagnosis that ten-year-old me could barely pronounce. A lot has changed since then. After trying glasses, various contact lenses, and after living half my life with KC, finally, I received the gift of sight through bilateral cornea transplants.
Not only did the surgery correct my vision to 20/20 uncorrected after the transplants, a true miracle that I thank God for regularly, but it gave me a clearer perspective on life itself.
The cornea transplants allowed me to finish college, become an award-winning educator, give a TED Talk, meet President Obama at the White House, as well as start a family. And I wouldn’t have ever thought any of those things were in my future before; certainly, I did not think they would be in my story. And then, this year, I published a children’s book called Science With Scarlett: What Color Will It Be?
The book explores the science of color vision, and it invites readers to follow Scarlett—a precocious young scientist modeled after my kindergarten daughter Laina—and her charming teddy bear assistant, Mr. Bear, who do experiments with the reader. Science With Scarlett is written in clever rhymes and rollicking verse, teaching actual science, and striving to get young thinkers wondering and young wonderers thinking.
Readers can purchase Science With Scarlett at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, as well as on Kindle or iTunes and support the work of Eversight in the process.
The science of color vision was a natural fit for the topic of the book, being that sight has been so much a part of my own story. That’s why we are donating 15% of the book proceeds to Eversight—the organization that makes vision-restoring cornea transplants possible—in order to help restore sight and prevent blindness for others.
So far, we’ve been able to donate $1,000 to Eversight in just our first few months since the book was released!
Looking back, it wasn’t the KC that got in my way, it was how I responded to KC—it was my mindset—that did. You see, I used to build my identity around my eyesight when I had KC, and I allowed my circumstances to write my story for me, rather than being the author of it myself. With a new outlook on life, I was able to see past my circumstances and make KC part of my story rather than all of it.
What I learned in all of this is that you can author your life‘s story. And I hope that my story can be an encouragement to others. Despite what’s been written about you so far, you aren’t defined by your circumstances. Instead, even through KC, you can still focus on what you want your story to be about going forward.
I wish I had realized that earlier, but then again—without having had KC, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And while that doesn’t make having a condition like Keratoconus a good thing in and of itself, it does reveal that even challenging circumstances can be worked together for good.
Gary Abud Jr. is an award-winning educator and double cornea transplant recipient who, since having his sight restored from Keratoconus, was moved to use his teaching gifts to make science fun for kids. He lives with his family near Detroit and writes to inspire children, like his own daughter, to love science. Gary is the 2014 recipient of the Michigan Teacher of the Year honor. Learn more or get in touch at ScienceWithScarlett.com