Tessa Snyder, from Philadelphia in the US, was diagnosed with cancer after doctors had for months wrongly diagnosed her condition as growing pains.
“Little by little I would wake up every day for school and the pain would get worse every morning,” Tessa said.
“One morning I woke up in tears because it took a good couple of minutes for me to be able to bend my leg.
“Eventually the pain became unbearable to the touch. I was then ordered in for an MRI a couple of months later.
“I had a biopsy done on my leg, then 10 days after I was sitting in a room being checked out by the surgeon, making sure the stitches had healed.
“He stood in front of me and explained as simply as he could to an 11-year-old that I had cancer – osteogenic sarcoma on my right femur bone, to be exact.
“Once I was diagnosed, things happened fast. Looking back, it feels like such a whirlwind. I had a central line inserted into my chest to administer the chemotherapy into my body.”
After seven months of chemotherapy, her doctors called a meeting with Tessa and her family to discuss how to get rid of the tumour in her leg.
“Even in my 11-year-old mind, I thought if I could get rid of my leg and never have to go through this again, why not?
“They showed me pictures of people who went on to live great lives and explained I’d be able to walk, run and play sports again,” she said.
Although she was young, Tessa knew that an amputation was her best chance at minimising the risk of the cancer returning.
For the next three months the now 29-year-old spent confined to a wheelchair while she was being closely monitored.
“I focused on becoming stronger while learning how to walk with a prosthesis. My first prosthetic didn’t bend at the knee, but it was specifically designed to gain strength and mobility.
“It was so I could ‘feel’ what it was like to stand on two feet again after three months of not being able to.
“There were countless times of frustration and anger, but not once did I want to give up.
“School with a prosthetic was difficult. I felt different to everyone else. I felt out of place and like I wouldn’t be accepted or have any friends,” she said.
In January 2001, Tessa and her family were told she was cancer-free. It’s a day she’ll always remember.
Since her battle, the stunning woman has grown stronger and learnt to love her prosthetic leg as it’s given her back her life.
“My prosthetic is a part of me and it’s who I am. It gives me the ability to take me places I want to go and to be able to experience life with my children and partner.
“The closest people in my life have loved seeing me open up recently and inspiring others who are going through similar circumstances.
“I’ve learnt so much, but mostly how to grow. Growth is such a beautiful thing that we all have the ability to achieve.
“Self-acceptance, growing and learning to love ourselves are the keys to happiness in my eyes,” the mom said.
Despite fearing her life wouldn’t be normal Tessa, who now lives with her husband Casey and their two sons, hopes to inspire other survivors and amputees to love themselves.
“I love that at almost 30 years old I feel more beautiful and sexier than ever,” she said.
“I can’t believe I used to let so many things get to me. Cancer sucks and having one leg may not be ideal sometimes, but I was given a second chance at life.
“If I get to help one person through my journey, then my purpose on Earth is worth it. Almost 20 years later, I’m proud to say to that little 11-year-old girl, thank you for not giving up.”
Source: Magazine Features