Kelsey Ellison, otherwise known as Norma Night, who had Rb growing up, tells CHECT about her life post-Rb, her new career and living with a prosthetic eye.
Can you tell us about how you were diagnosed with retinoblastoma?
I was two years old when my parents noticed something was wrong with my eyes. My mum initially took me to the doctors and they didn’t pick up on anything. But then she got a second opinion, and that’s when they discovered it was Rb. She mentioned that my eye would look strange in photos and I wasn’t focusing as well with my right eye. I had my treatment just before my third birthday and had to have my right eye removed, and now I wear a prosthetic one.
What is life like for you now, post Rb?
To me it feels normal as I’ve had my prosthetic eye since I was so young! Sometimes I forget that it’s not actually “normal”. Such as me having to adjust my balance and peripheral vision, or taking care of my prosthetic. As a child and a teenager, it was quite difficult as I didn’t feel like I fit in, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve really learnt how to love and live with it!
You’ve had experience with dancing, acting and creating music – can you tell us a bit about that and what you are currently up to?
I’m currently working on my new music project Norma Night! I started it this year and have mainly performed at queer events in London and pride events. I have a new single and music video coming next month (September) and I’m super excited to release it!
Can you tell us about your new single, what inspired you and the queer cowgirly pop genre?
I’ve always loved singing country and folk music since I was a kid, but I also love camp pop music. So I decided to mix both together, while also involving my queer experience.
You often change your prosthetic eyes – can you tell us about the different designs you have and how you use these in your social media videos and posts?
Yes! This is only a recent thing. Up to a year ago I only used my NHS eye. But I partnered up with Eye Mkr, who’s based in the U.S.A. They’ve made me some really cool, out there eyes! And it’s really built my confidence to have fun with my prosthetics. I use them to match them to my outfits and educate others about prosthetic eyes and Rb. I have a few designs now, my favourite are my all black one, a glittery pink one, a glow in the dark green one and also one I actually got made by the NHS which is a green iris one instead of my brown natural colour. I wear that one almost every day.
What advice would you give others who have prosthetic eyes?
It’s a part of you, yet it doesn’t define you. But it does make you a lot cooler (in my opinion!) So you might as well have fun with it and embrace it! Don’t let the thoughts of not fitting in stop you from doing anything. In fact not fitting in might be your biggest strength.
Photos by Kaleidoshoots.