SANDWICH — Sometimes, you find when you give to the community unselfishly, the community won’t hesitate to return the favor.
Optometrist Karl Csiszer has learned that, not only about Sandwich, but also about his family, his church and his fellow eye doctors. Diagnosed earlier this year with malignant pancreatic cancer, Csiszer took time off work for surgery and is undergoing chemotherapy.
“Like everyone else, I have my good days and my bad days, but I’m functioning, I’m seeing patients,” he said.
During the weeks recovering from surgery, he was unable to work. Six other doctors stepped up to see patients and keep his practice afloat. And Csiszer credits his staff of four with doing a great job.
Although many would be hesitant to discuss such a serious health issue, Csiszer said most of his patients, friends and family already know about it. “I’ve had a lot of my patients praying for me, sending cards, e-mails, giving advice and just a lot of positive energy.”
With a smile, Csiszer said he believes the power of positive thinking shouldn’t be underestimated.
He said although the chemotherapy has not diminished the size of the tumor, it hasn’t grown either. Csiszer said the goal is to shrink or kill the tumor so it can be removed. He said the next step will be radiation treatment.
The Plano native has been in practice in Sandwich for 35 years and hopes continue for a few more years. “It helps to continue working. I look forward to coming in and seeing patients,” he said.
Csiszer said he has learned to enjoy life more every day, and because his future is uncertain, he has taken on another doctor in his practice.
Dr. Michael Menconi joined Csiszer’s practice at the Eyecare Center on July 9. A recent graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry, the 42-year-old Menconi found his passion for eyes during a mission trip to Honduras.
He related the story of a Honduran farmer who hadn’t seen his own feet for years. “How can you be a farmer and not even see that far?” he asked, incredulously.
“Before getting glasses, he just looked so beat down. Afterwards, you should have seen him, he just glowed,” Menconi said.
He said he told his wife on the flight home that he wanted to quit his job as a salesman in the printing industry to attend optometry school. “She was OK with it in theory, when it was just talk. When things actually started happening, her response was ‘over my dead body.’”
But serendipity played a role and Menconi said he was laid off from his sales job. “Everything happens for a reason. If I told you how many coincidental things happened, you wouldn’t believe it. This is what I am supposed to be doing,” Menconi said.
He admits going to school later in life, after being married with children, was often a struggle. But, like Csiszer, Menconi said he, too, has a great support system in his family and his church.
As he was finishing school, networking came into play when a vendor happened to mention Csiszer’s situation to Menconi. The two men met and hit it off immediately.
“I believe my faith put me here,” Menconi said. “I’ve been asking patients what they like about coming here, and they all say the same thing. There’s a friendly, family environment here. Dr. Csiszer is a caring person.”
Csiszer calls Menconi “a very nice person, and I really look forward to our association.”
“Things happen for a reason,” Menconi said.