Hi my name is Mara Lauren, I am a fun loving, caring Filipino Canadian who was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2010. Recently, I have been diagnosed with Ushers Syndrome, which not only includes vision loss, but also hearing loss. When I was first diagnosed with RP it was a big life changing experience, because I was told I was going blind and there was nothing I could do to prevent this. The initial diagnosis by a Doctor who had little education on the subject was very callous and his uncaring approach caused me to feel hopeless and lost. Which, caused me to go into depression for a 2 year period. Eventually, I was connected with the right people. The right specialists who helped to give me hope and let me know this eye condition shouldn’t stop me from living the life I want and it wasn’t the end. In 2014, I started to really look at my life and I knew I had to change my mindset. That this depression was the jolt I actually needed to start focusing on what really matters and to completely revamp my life by staying positive. It was at this point with the help of my caring husband by my side, I have done just that. I started getting involved with The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as a support group leader, I am part of The Foundation Fighting Blindness (American and Canadian organizations), also I have recently joined Trailblazers Tandem Cycling Club (Registered charity, provides recreational cycling to people who have limited or no vision). In the summer of 2016 I conquered Cycle For Sight, a fundraising event with The Foundation Fighting Blindness to find cure for degenerative blindness. This was one of my biggest accomplishment thus far since it has been one of my goals since being diagnosed, it wasn’t easy but I was able to complete the 91km event. I try to live a fit active lifestyle by working out and eating healthy, but of course every now and then I must indulge. Another big aspect of my life is traveling, spending time with loved ones and just enjoying life to its fullest.
WHAT IS ATE MARA MEAN ?
Ate Mara? Well that is me. I am a Filipina. I am the eldest of 3. In the Philippine culture, we say Ate (pronounced A-teh) in front of our names to address the older sister as a sign of respect. Throughout my life, I have been called by families and even friends that are younger than me, Ate Mara. A sister who is always there for everyone. With social media being such a big aspect now, I have met many friends from all over the world. And to them, I am also a sister. Someone they can call, Ate.