What do you get when you cross a brain tumor fighter with strabismus? You get Your Eyes Are Your Heart Founder and CEO, Tiffany Johnson-Womack. Tiffany grew up an only child in Brooklyn, New York. Even as a child Tiffany dealt with vision problems. She visited the ophthalmologist as scheduled and was always told to wear reading glasses. As Tiffany entered her teens, her doctor began to notice she had a droopy right eye lid.
In 2002, at the age of twenty, Tiffany moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she pursued an undergraduate degree at Strayer University. On her first visit to the Virginia Eye Institute in Richmond, doctors noticed her right pupil did not dilate and they saw a tumor on her optic nerve. Everything she had started was about to come to a halt when they told her she had a brain tumor and needed treatment as soon as possible. After weeks of testing, the tumor was found to be a benign pituitary brain tumor, and Tiffany was advised to begin Gamma Knife treatment that consists of brain surgery and radiation. The Gamma Knife procedure was successful at shrinking the tumor but it would be there for the rest of her life. A year after the procedure her right eye started to turn inward, and she was told she had a condition called strabismus.
Having now lived with strabismus in a brain tumor for many years, Tiffany knows firsthand the misconception of the condition. She has dealt with self-esteem issues. “Having strabismus, people tend to give a lot of probing stares that make you feel uncomfortable,” Tiffany writes. She began to wonder how anyone could love a person who looks like her. She stopped looking people in the eye because she was afraid of people judging her.
Today Tiffany continues to do research about brain tumors and strabismus so she can help herself and others. Thanks to her doctors, teachers, family members, and friends, she was eventually able to see what they see–how beautiful she is beyond her eyes.
Tiffany Johnson established the non-profit Your Eyes Are Your Heart Foundation to assist families who face the same challenges she has with the brain tumor and strabismus. She believes through research and fundraising, “we can make a big difference in people’s lives. We focus on treatment, vision therapy and self-esteem programs for youth and adults dealing with the probing stares and questions about strabismus,” Tiffany writes, “and we bring awareness to brain tumors. We believe our programs we will give back to our community through health, education and nutrition.”