Somehow I’ve gone over a half of century in my lifetime without requiring any type of surgical procedure (that sound you hear is me knocking on wood).
How many surgeries have you had: One? Two? More than five?
Angie Dillard has had 25 surgeries – and they all took place before she turned six years old.
Angie was born with a condition called Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that develops from the immature cells of the retina, the light detecting tissue of the eye. It is exclusively found in young children, often leading to glaucoma and can spread to other parts of the body. Living with her Mom in Tigard, Angie was fortunate to be referred to the Devers Memorial Eye Clinic in the early 1970’s and was “adopted” by the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation and local Lions Clubs. At Devers, Angie was in the capable hands of Dr. Richard Chenoweth: “He was such a nice man, he was so good to me and my Mom” said Angie, now living in Salem.
One of Angie’s surgeries entailed the implant of a prosthetic to replace her left eye, which was left with no vision. Other surgeries involved the removal of tumors wrapped around the optic nerves of her right eye, which today provides Angie with 20/30 vision – with corrective lenses. “Lions paid for my eyeglasses while I was growing up. The South Salem Lions even paid for my prosthetic when I needed a new one as a young adult.”
After all of her surgeries were completed, Angie and her Mom agreed to have Angie become the Poster Child of OLSHF in 1978. She has especially fond memories of the Lions from around the state of Oregon that she met, travelling to Lions Conventions and making appearances on behalf of the Foundation. She especially remembers Willard and Grace Wilson of the Yachats Lions. “Willard was my handler” Angie says with a smile. “”Willard took me to conventions and was so kind and caring.”
Angie and her Mom moved to Salem when she turned 14 and lived a life just like any other teenager at the time. “I never felt like I had any limitations, I l learned to adjust (to having vision in only one eye), if I can’t see well enough to park in a certain parking space, I just park somewhere else” she said, laughing. Angie currently manages a retail store in Salem, is an avid hiker and still lives within a block of her Mother.
As for her appreciation for the support that she received earlier in life: “As much as Lions have done for me in my life, I am indebted and will do anything for you.”
No need to do anything for us, Angie. On behalf of Lions everywhere, helping you was our pleasure.