When I was first diagnosed, the original treatment plan
was to have 5 months of inpatient chemo, then have
reconstructive surgery on my leg, knee and tibia,
then finish with another 5 months of chemo to ensure
that I had the best chance of beating it.
After 5 months of chemo, I had a repeat MRI scan to see how my tumour had responded to the chemo. Unfortunately, the scans showed that, despite the chemo, my tumour had grown. My surgeon said that there was a very slim chance he would be able to do the reconstructive surgery as planned and that I should consider having an above knee amputation because it would give me a greater chance of becoming cancer free.
After that appointment, I had 2 weeks at home before my surgery and, in that time, I talked a lot with my friends and family. And I also thought about the amputation a lot and decided that that would be the best option, and would give me the best quality of life in the long run, also avoiding any further surgery.
I obviously felt nervous because it was such a life changing operation. But I also felt at peace with it as I had been unable to walk or even weight bare for months and I was in the most excruciating pain everyday. Although I knew I was completely aware that I would still be in pain, that pain was short term and would gradually go away as my recovery progressed over the months.
I would say the hardest part was accepting the fact that this operation would completely change my life forever. It was hard at first to accept that my body and life would change so much. I was nervous going into public but I soon learnt to embrace it, because it represented a story and a battle that I fought. It's always best to have a positive mindset in theses situations as it will really help with your recovery. I also poke fun at myself so that other people don’t feel so awkward when they first see me and it shows them that I’m still the same person.
Like everything else in life it can be hard at times but I can confidently say that it was the best decision I ever made.
I also had the amazing opportunity to donate my leg to research. I think knowing that I had contributed to such an amazing thing and that it can help people like me in the future and research into Osteosarcoma helped a lot mentally as well.
I would like to say I coped pretty well; I had my good and bad days but on the whole I coped well. I will say it was tough at first as I had a lot of nerve pain and it would take every bit of my energy just to be able to sit onto the bed at first. Once I was about 3 weeks post op and back home things got a lot better: my pain levels where a lot less than they had been and I was becoming a lot more mobile even in my wheelchair. I accepted very early on that there are always going to be a couple of things that I wouldn’t be able to do even with a prosthetic but I had the rest of my life, so in the bigger picture that couple of things really didn’t matter. I had my life and thats what was the most important thing to me.
My advice to anyone going through a similar situation or someone who is considering having an amputation. Don’t be scared because it will be hard but so worth it. Also, don’t give up or be ashamed of your amputation, because that is what now makes you special and don’t let it hinder you. Instead let it benefit you and shape you. Just remember, accept the things that you can't change and always look for the positives even in the hardest of situations.