Never Stop! Never Give Up!
When I was asked to do this article I felt I was at a flat point. That I had nothing to say? I feel I've pushed my story so far that perhaps people weren't interested anymore? Than I made a promise to myself and nobody else, that 2019 was going to not just be a good year but a GREAT year! My focus was going to be new and my perspective a little changed! I may not be your typical Active Amputee but I don't let that hold me down! As you can see when you read my story.
I Am Tracy And This Is My Story
Hi my name is Tracy, I am 34 and I am from Australia.
In June 2016 I was diagnosed with a rare and now discovered incurable sarcoma cancer called Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma. I don't like talking about it, in fact I LOVE talking about it. It helps bring awareness to a disease that isn't commonly heard of. I can't help it; unfortunately I have been living and breathing this cancer for over two and a half years. However I am not cancer; it is just a part of me. It's a norm!
This cancer has not only taken my right leg above knee from me. It also took the lower lobe of my left lung. I’ve tried and am on my third type of chemotherapy. I've had immunotherapy which brought on pneumonitis, causing inflammation in my lungs, breathlessness and coughing. So Prednisolone has been my go to for the last year on and off, in order for me to breathe again. But it has had its own issues.
I have had radiation to five different areas of my body, a thoracotomy on my right lung, many hospital stays, a skin graft done on my left thigh and a metastases removed from my scalp in which the skin graft was placed.
However these are just things that have happened to me!!!
I Make Things Happen
I realised I have made a lot of things happen for myself and others…and this is how I feel I am an active amputee.
In 2017 I had the thoracotomy and left lower lobe lobectomy. I also had twenty fractions of radiation on my aorta over four and a half weeks. Around this I was planning a charity ball called the Yellow Ribbon Ball in which 170+ people attended. Not only did I get out of hospital one week after my lobectomy and walk into so many businesses in my home town to get donations and prizes, but my socket for my prosthesis was ill fitting and hurting quite a lot. This was the hard part!
On top of organising, the venue, the band, MC, ticket sales, raffle tickets, flowers for the table, my own dress for the night etc it was very exhausting.
Particularly because my radiation is done two hours away from home so in the final weeks before the event I wasn't even home. But I did it, me and a few girls who helped on the night. It was spectacular raising over $13k. I just pushed through it because I gave myself no choice!
2018 was even crazier as I spent a lot of weeks in hospital due to the pneumonitis and chemotherapy. It was really hard and somewhat depressing but I new it wasn't permanent. My PET scans and results at the start of the year were not good. The Prednisolone has made me put on 20 kgs. So again I did find so many flaws. I hated the way I looked. My face was full of fluid, I even found it hard to smile as my cheeks just couldn't expand anymore. Some said I looked like a chipmunk! Their affectionate teasing didn't help.
Traveling Around Europe
So after a discussion with my Oncologist I decided on a whim to book flights to London and travel on to Europe with my twin sister for six weeks, even though I literally finished radiation on my neck a day before we flew out. And I had only just received a new socket for my prosthesis and a new Rheo Knee XC. My prosthetist actually saw me the morning before I flew out.
The time away from home did me a world of good. And although it was easy to get wheelchairs everywhere we went the holiday was still exhausting. Unfortunately I finished my Prednisolone two weeks into the trip, I noticed myself feel breathless and coughing again..particularly during my last two weeks over there!
The heat was not to my benefit as an amputee. However I wanted to see so much. Let me tell you the Acropolis disabled access route they designed for the Olympics was nowhere near fantastic. When you can't breathe it doesn't matter how good of a technology you have to walk on. It was still a long way to the elevator to get up there! I won’t lie: I cried. But my sister helped push me through it. It was ridiculously hot being August. I also didn't want to let myself down. I knew I would regret it if I didn't see it.
The same went for Oia in Santorini. I was told by people that it wouldn't be a great place for me to go. I ignored them, how could I not go to Santorini? Oia and the magical sunset was just so memorable. And I met some other Aussies there as well to chill in the different aura of colours as the sun went down over the Aegean Sea!
Delphi was no different. By then my breathing was hopeless. However I had a mark to get to. The Amphitheatre!
It was probably a 15 mins walk for most without stopping. Lots of stairs, rocky stairs, stone stairs that were slippery and on angles. But I took my time and stopped frequently. It took me about an hour. It was tough. By the time I got back to the bottom I was coughing so profusely I vomited. But so very worth it. It was beautiful!
Something I learnt about this trip was a lot about me, and how tough I am even with everything going on. My will power was tested so much and it was not without tears.
A New Year Brings A New Focus
Which has lead me to this year. I am focusing on my own page on Instagram and Facebook. I also keep promising to put more blogs up, however Instagram tends to be where I write my thoughts down. Some people tell me I am inspiring and positive. I don't often feel this way. I'm just being me. Just trying to be happy and survive. Sometimes on social media I like to keep it real. Cancer unfortunately is a big part of my life! So I use Instagram like my own diary.
I have started another Instagram page with a friend, called Ampbeauty Collective. Which i am very excited about. We want #ampbeauty to become a movement about amputee women, for amputee women, by amputee women. To inspire, uplift and empower. As women the pressures in society to look a certain way are very real and we hope to redefine beauty and keep our platform very positive by asking “What makes you feel beautiful?” We have goals to hopefully make T-Shirts, perhaps have our own website and blogs for this also. You can find us on Instagram @amp_beauty_co
I haven't stopped there. I was asked to be an Ambassador for a local company called The Big Hug Box, which is a not for profit raising money for cancer research and donating beautiful care packages to cancer patients. I will be singing at a charity event they are holding in February.
I'm very proud of this organisation and to be a part of it. I was so humbled to be asked to be their ambassador. You can find them on Instagram @thebighugbox
Singing is another goal of mine. To do more of something that is close to my heart. Particularly since having pneumonitis for over a year meant I couldn't find my voice through the pneumonitis. It was very heartbreaking for me. Having something I deeply love and enjoy taken away from me. I have plans for this, however that's under wraps.
I've started ideas rolling around for another charity event to raise money for sarcoma research I hope this can come to fruition this year if my health stays ok. Never stop! Never give up!
I’ve been offered surfing lessons, something that scares me but excites me as well. I wasn't able to wear my prosthesis for over two months recently and have only had a new socket made just before Christmas. I'm still waiting on a waterproof leg so I still have no idea how I'm going to get into the water. But I have to try. Otherwise I will never know. Besides it's better than sitting at home!
Recently a friend has decided to trek China. She is also a personal trainer and is holding boxing classes. I know it's not much however I'm concerned about my breathing at the moment so I nearly didn't sign up. I love boxing though and decided again its worth a shot. Who knows: It may just benefit me if I don't cough up a lung first!
My brain is on fire at the moment and I can't stop it I have so many ideas on things to keep myself busy emotionally, mentally and physically this year. I just knew 2019 was going to be a good year. No matter what my next PET scan results are in February.
I love to give back. But most importantly I love to continue to live my best life in between the obstacles and my set backs. Its important to have goals and focus on one at a time. For a long time I found this difficult, put it in the too hard basket. So nothing ever happened. Nothing changed. I Didn't change. Not a good place to be.
Opportunities Don’t Come Knocking On Your Door
I realise now more than ever opportunities don’t come knocking on your door. You have to go knocking on theirs just liken I did when getting business to donate for the Yellow Ribbon Ball. It's hard work, believe me. But worth it.
Now I see so many opportunities unravelling. None of us know how long we have so you need to talk to people, ask questions, create discussion, get information, put your words out to the universe. You just never know who's listening and may be there to help you in all the ways you need! This will most importantly keep you active in one form or another as it has me!
A journey led by destiny
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