A woman lost her eye due to a rare form of cancer during childhood – and now uses her disability to spread awareness with a ‘humor and a touch of sass’.
At the age of one, Salina was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer and was forced to remove her eyeball to stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of her body which could have led to blindness in both eyes.
Hitting back: TikTok user Salina Moreno, 31, stunned her followers when she posted a video in which she removed her prosthetic eyeball
Hold on…! The freelance photographer, from Los Angeles, lost her eye when she was just one year old, after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She is seen removing her prosthetic
Au naturale! Salina regularly posts about her prosthetic eye on TikTok – often posting tongue-in-cheek videiso about it to hit back at trolls who make cruel comments about her appearance
She has since worn a prosthetic eye, which costs up to $5,000 and needs replacement every five years.
Speaking about the time, Salina said: ‘I lost my eye when I was one year old to a rare form of childhood cancer called Retinoblastoma. My parents noticed a white glow in my left eye and took me to see several specialists that determined it was cancer.
‘My parents were left with the decision to try and save my eye by doing chemo and radiation treatments but that would risk the cancer spreading to my other eye and leaving me completely blind or it spreading to my brain and being dead.
‘Or I had the choice to remove my left eye and be cancer-free!
‘The doctors didn’t completely agree with removing my eye but came to an agreement when the doctor confirmed it, I could no longer see out of my right eye.’
Despite her condition, Salina can still see with her left eye and perform daily tasks such as driving and even playing competitive sports.
Salina set up her TikTok page @eye_am_sal to spread awareness of her condition and to inspire others not to let their health or life circumstances bring them down.
She has since amassed over 140,000 followers and loves adding a bit of ‘humor and a touch of sass’ to her videos – especially when it comes to responding to her haters.
Popular: Her TikTok account has amassed more than 140,000 followers since the start of the pandemic, when she set it up as a means of passing the time in lockdown
Proud: Salina, who has had a prosthetic eye since she was a little girl, is now much more comfortable in her own skin, be it with or without her fake eye
Struggle: ‘I dealt with a lot of bullying and stares that kept me down and hiding my bubbly personality from the world,’ Salina shared
Keep it up: Salina has to replace her prosthetic eye every five years – and every new design costs a whopping $5,000
The 31-year-old created a video reply to a comment from someone calling her out for having a ‘lazy eye’ – and Salina took the opportunity to create a hilarious reaction video.
In the video, she said: ‘Seriously, sh** you’re right! One thing I cannot stand is laziness, like laziness is my biggest pet peeve.
‘So, if my eye is being lazy…’ before unexpectedly popping out her prosthetic eye, adding: ‘It’s gotta go, and you can go with it.’
One user commented: ‘Not gonna lie. That was a power move.’
Another added: ‘I legit WAS NOT READY. WHAT….’
Meanwhile, one wrote: ‘Omg! This is the best comeback video I think I have ever seen.’
Speaking about her TikTok page, Salina said: ‘COVID-19 inspired me to start my TikTok page!
‘My family and friends that know how funny and outgoing I am have been telling me for a year to start a TikTok but at the time I was content with my small Instagram account.
‘But being in quarantine with nowhere to go led me to join TikTok just to pass time.
‘I enjoyed making people laugh but it wasn’t until I shared my story about my eye that I realized I had the power to inspire others.
Tell-tale sign: When she was one year old, Salina’s parents noticed a white glow in her left eye (pictured) and took her to see the doctors
Concern: Salina was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that could have left her blind in both eyes
Decision: Doctors told Salina’s parents that they could try to save her eye by treating her cancer with chemotherapy, however they warned that could cause the cancer to spread
Brave: Her parents decided to have her left eye removed in order to stop the cancer from spreading and making her condition even worse
‘I’ve done my best to create a positive community on my TikTok page by posting positive, wholesome, inspirational content for everyone so although I do not receive too much negativity there is always someone that has something negative to say.
‘You can’t please everyone. I like to deal with the negative commenters with humor and a touch of sass. I have learned that once you are confident and completely secure with yourself as a person there is nothing anyone can say that can phase you or bring you down.’
Salina was bullied growing up with her condition but has since learnt to love herself from within and accept herself as she is, gaining confidence and a new perspective to life.
She added: ‘People often comment on how confident I am and how they wish they had my confidence. I wish people knew that it’s been a journey to be where I am today.
‘I spent most of my life feeling insecure and hiding behind my hair.
‘I dealt with a lot of bullying and stares that kept me down and hiding my bubbly personality from the world.
‘It wasn’t until two years ago that I decided to forget what others thought and love every aspect of me and now I can be me and free.
‘My prosthetic eye is not who I am. It is only a small part of me but it has given me the greatest opportunity to share my story and inspire others to embrace themselves.
‘I have mixed emotions about going viral on TikTok.
Active: Salina says having a prosthetic eye does not stop her from living life to the fullest
Coming out of her shell: After dealing with bullies for year, Salina says she finally found the confidence to stop hiding her prosthetic eye from the world
Message: ‘I enjoyed making people laugh but it wasn’t until I shared my story about my eye that I realized I had the power to inspire others,’ Salina said of her TikTok fame
‘I love that I have a larger audience to influence and inspire in a positive way but now I have a lot of people reaching out wanting to share their stories of insecurities they struggle with or how they also have one eye.
‘I love hearing all of the stories and wish I can respond to all of the comments and messages I get because I want to help as many people as I can by showing them how to love themselves, but it’s impossible and can be overwhelming.
‘So, I am learning to balance my personal life as well as my life as a TikTok creator.’
In a heartwarming act of kindness, Salina helped raise funds for a fellow TikToker to afford a prosthetic eye.
In just two days, Salina raised over $3,000 after posting a video on TikTok asking people to donate.
Salina said she wants to use her platform to help others struggling with self-acceptance as she knows how difficult it is to feel different from everyone else.
She added: ‘My heart is to help people like me that are struggling with self-acceptance.
‘I know what it’s like to feel different and just want to look like everyone else so I felt really lead to do my best to raise money with the TikTok following that I have with over 140,000 followers.
‘I am happy to report we were able to raise that $3,000 within 2 days!’