Save The Eye: A Thank You to Bascom Palmer
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 to spread the word and hope that it catches on.
This isn’t about me; it’s about helping adults and children across the world not to have to wear an eye patch. Being able to build eye prostheses through a 3D printer will have an effect on a lot more people worldwide than you can ever imagine.
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.
Please help me by contributing $10 (or more) to Save The Eye for the purchase of a 3D printer that Dr. Tse will use to produce financially attainable prosthetic eyes for as many Bascom Palmer Eye Institute patients as possible.
This is a labor of love for me. I’m truly blessed to still be around. Help spread the word!
To contribute to the Save The Eye fund:
1. Go to https://advancement.miami.edu/NetCommunity/SSLPage.aspx?pid=28
2. Choose “Other” under “Designation”
3. Type in “Save The Eye/Account 700523
Editor’s note: This is an abbreviated version of a letter that we received from a patient.