Personal Stories

Apr 13, 2020

Sue Lives Life to the Fullest and Wants to Help Others Do the Same

Meet Sue Sanger. Sue was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at the age of 29 but has continued to travel, advance in her legal and political career, and more. In the following story, Sue explains, in her own words, all she has accomplished since learning she has RP and why she’s a supporter and member of the Foundation Fighting Blindness Legacy Society.

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By Sue Sanger, Legacy Society Member

Sue Sanger, Legacy Society Member.

In my early 20s, I realized that I couldn’t see very well in the dark. I consulted with several ophthalmologists – and all told me not to worry as “everyone has more trouble seeing in the dark.” Finally, when I was 29 years old, another ophthalmologist checked my eyes, and quickly excused himself from the exam room. I heard him talking with another doctor and one said, “I get her for a research subject!” Both doctors then told me I had retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and explained that there was no treatment or cure available. This was scary, but it was also a relief to finally know what was wrong. I decided the only rational response was to go to France for a vacation!

Since then, I have continued to travel all over the world. I went to law school and practiced employment law for 23 years. I also served as an elected member of the St. Louis Park (Minnesota) City Council for 22 years. I have been involved in many other political campaigns and have volunteered with several non-profit community organizations. I play bridge frequently, became a Life Master, and play in tournaments as well. Throughout these experiences, I have rarely let my RP prevent me from doing whatever I want – though sometimes I have to do things in a different way, such as switching from biking solo to riding on the back of a tandem bicycle.

By making annual contributions, as well as including a bequest to the Foundation in my will, I believe that I am helping to provide hope for all of us with visual challenges. It is both a privilege and a responsibility to share my funds so that others may see.

Sue Sanger, Legacy Society Member

I have learned to ask for support. My partner Henry and my many friends provide transportation (I can’t drive), an arm to hold on to, and advance warnings of stairs, curbs and other tripping hazards. Most importantly, they provide love and encouragement to continue to lead an active and independent life – and they don’t laugh too hard when I bump into things or knock over that wine glass I didn’t see. And as my vision has declined and has become more obvious to the general public, I’ve been amazed that strangers have been very helpful and accommodating. In short, RP is a nuisance and a challenge, but not an insurmountable obstacle.

I support the Foundation Fighting Blindness because it raises critical funds for basic research and clinical trials to find treatments and cures that can benefit all of us with inherited retinal diseases. By making annual contributions, as well as including a bequest to the Foundation in my will, I believe that I am helping to provide hope for all of us with visual challenges. It is both a privilege and a responsibility to share my funds so that others may see.