For Patients

Seeing a Way Out

Patient: Willard Traub
Diagnosis: GVHD
Sight Restored: June 2007

There is a huge difference between reacting and responding.  Reacting is a knee jerk effect controlled by the non-logical portion of our brain.  Responding is focused in the higher thinking centers, which send signals to the emotional centers to take control of fear or stress.  Life does not just happen to us.  It is our reaction or response to challenges that creates our personal reality.

In the spring of 2005, Willard Traub was diagnosed with blood cancer.  His bleak prognosis led him to prepare for the possibility of death.  However, later in that year, he received a life-saving bone marrow transplant.  While it saved his life, he subsequently developed graft versus host disease (GVHD).  Soon after Willard began to experience hallmark ocular symptoms, including light sensitivity, dry eyes and pain.

He responded by turning to photography as a source of support, healing and inspiration.  “Photography was a way to hold on to what I was going through.  It was my way of controlling the experience by getting some distance from it.”

When other treatment options gave him minimal respite from his symptoms, Willard came to Boston Foundation for Sight for PROSE treatment.  The relief was “immediate.”  As a photographer, sight is a particularly valued sense for Willard and the restoration of his vision with BostonSight® PROSE was critical to his quality of life, both professionally and personally. "It has been so gratifying to see Mr. Traub's stamina return and his creative work post-transplant achieve public acclaim," said BFS Medical Director Deborah S. Jacobs, MD.

Willard’s images, captured during his stay in the hospital and during the several years post-transplant, are reflective of the “simple pleasures” of life that are too often taken for granted.  His “Recovery” series was on exhibit at the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham, Massachusetts through the fall of 2011.  Accompanying the series were poems that captured his eloquent reflections of life’s pain and beauty.

Willard’s photographs and poems tell the story of a journey in which he learned that it is possible to “come out better on the other end.” This powerful message is embedded in the last verse of his poem, “The Healing Power of Light”:

          By looking into the light rather than hiding from it,
          begin to find the “new you.”
          A you who can see a way to get out of any hole
          You find you’ve fallen into.

“It humbles me when I meet patients like Will. People that have gone through so much, yet choose to be positive, patient, and kind. Will’s sensibility certainly helped him get through his experience with GVHD, expressing himself through art, but his kind spirit perhaps is his winning ticket in life. It was a pleasure being Will’s PROSE clinician and I’m thrilled PROSE is enabling him to reclaim his life.”
- Dr. Karen Carrasquillo

Learn more about Willard's amazing work by visiting his website or check out the catalog for Willard's Recovery series

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