Meet ALPS South ambassador And Para-Athlete Massimo Giandinoto
As part of my new collaboration with ALPS South, I had the pleasure of interviewing cancer survivor, para-athlete, and ALPS South's brand ambassador Massimo from Italy. We talk about the importance of sports in his recovery process, the products his uses to live a mobile and very active life style, and his sensitisation work with young people.
Enjoy the interview.
Disclosure: This article is part of my paid collaboration between The Active Amputee and ALPS South
"Choosing The Right Liners Is Essential For Amputees!"
Bjoern: Massimo, please introduce yourself: who is Massimo today?
Massimo: Massimo is a 37-year-old man who has been given a second chance in life thanks to sports. When I was 9, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on my left heel. Although we treated it with chemotherapy, it had metastasized to both lungs. It was decided a month later that the limb had to be amputated immediately. I’m now a Paralympic athlete and have been reborn through sports, despite my amputation. I’m a person who lives every day to the fullest and finds happiness in living, understanding the true importance of each day.
Bjoern: Why are sports so important in your life? You are a world-class athlete and were or are still part of the Italian national rafting team. Why are sports crucial to you?
Massimo: Sports are essential in my life because they gave me the strength I lacked before. When I lost my leg at the age of 9, it was challenging. Sports restored my strength and the desire to live life to the fullest. I was a part of the Italian national rafting team, and now I practice shooting, where I won the Italian championships last year. Sports are a part of me, and make me feel the same as anyone else, despite my prosthesis.
Bjoern: What were the biggest challenges you faced after amputation, and how did you deal with them?
Massimo: The most challenging period was reclaiming my life and learning to walk again. My family and I had to figure out how to live with the challenges of having to wear a prosthesis.
Bjoern: What were the highlights of your sporting career, and what are your plans for 2023 and 2024?
Massimo: The highlights of my sporting career include starting with speed athletics and winning the Italian indoor championships. I then joined the Italian national para rafting team. Currently, I am involved in shooting. Victories in various disciplines and even defeats motivate me to keep improving. As for the future, I have various national competitions coming up throughout the year. Apart from sports, I am also engaged in a school project where I visit schools to share my life story and motivate students to believe in themselves.
Bjoern: You initially hid your prosthesis but later decided to proudly display it as an athlete. What led to this change, and how has it affected your life?
Massimo: It was a moment of liberation when I decided to show my prosthesis. I had hidden it for many years, from age 9 to 26. I was always trying to avoid people who might recognize me and ask questions. The fear of judgment and reliving the trauma held me back. However, watching the London Paralympics on television, where athletes with special prostheses competed, inspired me to embrace my situation and get back into sports. It was a turning point.
Bjoern: You spend time sharing your experiences with children in schools. What strikes you the most during these interactions?
Massimo: The simplicity of these interactions strikes me the most. When I initially started this project, I didn't think I had much to teach. However, over the years, I realized the increasing interest from students. I've been doing this project for eight years now and have met nearly 1,600 students over the last year. I aim to normalize disabilities and show that it's not something to be hidden but rather a subject that should stimulate curiosity and understanding.
Bjoern: What advice do you have for people with disabilities struggling with self-acceptance and appearance?
Massimo: My advice is to find inner peace and acceptance. I was fortunate to have a supportive family and a wife who stood by me. Acceptance is crucial; when you resist your reality, it becomes a problem. After wasting many years in fear and self-doubt, I realized this years later. Serenity and happiness in simple everyday things are essential.
Bjoern: You mentioned the importance of stump care and using the right prosthetic products. Can you tell us more about the products you use and any tips for other prosthesis users?
Massimo: I use various ALPS products for my prosthetic needs, prosthetic liners, sleeves, feet and other systems, which help maintain a perfect stump condition. I use ALPS Antioxidant cream to prevent the redness and discomfort caused by prolonged prosthetic use. I wear my prosthesis for 16 to 18 hours a day, so proper care is crucial. Stump care is essential, and I've learned that the stump needs to breathe. I recommend taking breaks without the prosthesis to allow air circulation. Recognizing the quality of products is also vital.
Bjoern: Let's talk about prosthetic liners because choosing the right ones is crucial. What insights can you share about selecting the right liners?
Massimo: Choosing the right liners is essential for amputees. Liners come in various materials and thicknesses. For my active lifestyle, I prefer slightly thicker liners to reduce friction and discomfort caused by my constant movement.
Bjoern: How do you define disability?
Massimo: Disability, to me, represents a diverse world that not everyone understands. My experience, despite its challenges, has been relatively positive. Disability takes various forms, and it's important not to compare one disability to another because each person's experience is unique. My disability, amputation, became a normal part of my life, and I strive to normalize it for others through my social channels.
Bjoern: If you had the power to change one thing to improve the situation of people with disabilities in your country, what would you do?
Massimo: If I had the power to make a change, I would focus on changing people's mindsets and perceptions of disability. I want to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness and promote understanding and acceptance of disabilities. My aim is to make disability less of an anomaly and more of a normal aspect of society.
Bjoern: Thank you for the interview!
Post by Bjoern Eser, the creator of The Active Amputee.
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