Jeanette Myers is blind, but perhaps she sees things more clearly than most of us. The Carbondale woman was born with congenital glaucoma, but has not let visually impairment stop her from enjoying life.
Jeanette and her late husband, Lawre, moved from California to southern Illinois six years ago to be near one of their sons and granddaughters. Not one to sit still, she became involved in the SIH Second Act knitting and crocheting group.
As an outgrowth of that experience, Jeanette decided to knit a collection of “chemo caps” for patients undergoing treatment at the SIH Cancer Institute. She uses Braille tags to mark her work to make sure she knows which colors she is using. After the yarn work is complete, a friend sews the flower decorations onto the caps. “It’s not just a one-person activity,” Jeanette explained.
While she’s knitting the caps, she thinks about the personal challenges patients face during cancer treatment. “A lady undergoing chemotherapy who loses her hair may also lose her self-confidence. Maybe they will put on a cap and say, ‘I look pretty good.’”
The caps are not only fashionable, but also serve another purpose in keeping a patient’s head warm.
“We lose most of our body heat through our head,” said Jeanette. She even uses a special type of yarn that has a bit of elasticity to help keep the heat in.
Jeanette’s father, husband and sons all served in the military, so she is also passionate about helping veterans. She crochets lap throws, which she donates to the Anna Veteran’s Home. “I make them long enough they can cover up their feet,” she said, as she bent down, to show the length of the throws.
Giving to and helping others has been Jeanette’s life’s work. She founded Northern California Vision Resource Center in 1995, a non-profit organization that helped provide magnifiers, talking watches, Braille lessons and mobility training to the visually impaired.
Jeanette attended a grade school for the visually impaired and was able to attend a regular high school and college. She has trained guide dogs, taught brail, spoke at numerous seminars and helped others with vision problems. “I once taught Braille to a superior court judge,” said Jeanette.
Whether one is born with an impairment or one develops over the years, Jeanette’s advice is simple, “Forget the ‘I can’t. You can still do things, just in a different way,” she said.
“I’ve been fortunate,” said Jeanette, adding that people should never be afraid to learn new things. “Life begins today.”