Josh Schlanker’s family moved across to the other side of the world to the UK after he was diagnosed with unilateral Rb. Now 17 years old, his Rb experience certainly has not held him back especially when it comes to succeeding in sports and academia.
My Rb has resulted in a number of things. It has left me with peripheral vision in my right eye and forced my family to move over 9,000km across the globe. Diagnosed at nine months in Thailand, my treatment took place at Birmingham’s Children Hospital where I received chemotherapy, laser therapy and cryotherapy. But I would have never thought it’d shape my life view as much as it has done.
Despite my situation I do not let myself forget that I have been incredibly lucky, not only to keep my vision but also my eye. This has given me a very clear goal with everything I do – make the most out of it and have fun. My parents have played a very important role in this and although some may look at my childhood and say “What on earth was that?!” – the constant shuffling from school, to football, to cricket, to swimming after the weekly karate session, back to school again – these were busy but brilliant years of my life.
As I entered year seven, being the only one from my primary school, I was not daunted by the aspect of making new friends as I knew that whoever I met, the chances are that we would have something in common. In hindsight it has been a very valuable life skill that would not have been possible without the commitment my parents had towards my involvement in various activities during my childhood. My passion for football was beginning to take up most of my time as I started secondary school, being fortunate enough to play for Watford Academy up until the age of 16. This continued to give me an outlet to completely forget about everything as I played week in, week out.
As I have gotten older – and I would like to think more mature (although this is questionable) – the recent focus on my academic studies has freed up my time to reflect and appreciate the spare moments I get. You become more self-aware when you get older, this was no different for myself. Yet, I felt no need to do anything and nor should I have I felt I had to, because despite my Rb and the associated idiosyncrasies, I am no different to anyone else. Everyone is full of quirks and nuances and it is important not to forget that.
Despite this, having achieved good grades in my recent year 12 exams, I am hoping to study Medicine. It is a position I am extremely grateful to be in, and also a position I don’t think I would be in if it wasn’t for my Rb.