Kyle Bonanno’s family travelled from Malta to the UK for his Rb treatment when he was two years old. Now aged 20, he shares his experience of growing up with an artificial eye.
It all started when my mum was bathing two-year-old me and noticed an unusual glow in my eye. She decided to take me to the doctor, then after further tests, I was diagnosed with Rb. Me and my family were sent over to the UK for my treatment at The Royal London Hospital as I live in Malta.
On 31st January 2002, my right eye was removed which left me with sight in only one eye. Over the years I’ve also had yearly check-ups and another operation to restructure my eye. Looking back, my parents were my rock, helping me cope with my problems. They have always encouraged me to keep pushing myself and are my constant support system.
Growing up with Rb wasn’t easy as a child, noticing that everyone else was different played a big part. I always tried to be positive and look at the bigger picture. I remember one particular activity at school where we had to give a presentation in class. I was only around eight years old and I decided to talk about my situation. I remember showing the other students my different prosthetic eyes, which made me feel like a superhero – everyone was so fascinated and it certainly wasn’t what they were expecting!
Of course following these situations, there can be people who say mean words. They didn’t affect me personally – in fact the bullies have helped me to become a stronger person. I realised that there are two choices – continue to talk about your experiences and encourage others whilst taking the occasional negative comment in your stride – or to hide away and keep everything to yourself. I decided that sharing my situation is something that could help people, thus why I’m sharing my story with you today.
Now 20 years old, I consider myself very lucky to be living life to the fullest. Childhood was sometimes a difficult time, and there are still days were I feel that life wasn’t fair to me – but those times have only made me stronger. I am healthy and have been cancer free for almost 18 years which is ultimately the most important thing.
I like to use my experience to give hope to people and encourage them to try and make the best memories they can as time is precious and life is too short. This experience has also helped me believe in myself as I am a survivor and having conquered cancer means that I know I can conquer anything that comes to me in life.
I’m currently studying at university to become an accountant, I love playing football which is something that helps me relax and I also enjoy travelling the world and seeing different cultures.
Never giving up is also something I believe in as life gives us so many different opportunities to achieve our dreams and to follow our goals. To anyone reading this, the greatest piece of advice I can give is that Rb doesn’t hold you back from doing anything, it only makes us more powerful to conquer any obstacle!