Meet Limb Loss Survivor Kathryn Lewis

Location: Castle Pines, Colorado

Job: Registered Nurse, UCHealth

Overcoming a limb challenge and amputation

Limb Preservation Foundation (LPF): Tell us about the limb challenge you faced?

Kathryn: At age 9 I was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma of my right distal femur. Treatment included intensive chemotherapy and a limb salvage surgery which left me with an internal prosthesis. Since I was still growing as a child, I had surgery every six months or so to allow my right leg to grow with my left. Even as an adult I continued to require surgical correction after devices failed or required updating. From the time of my initial diagnosis to now, I have endured over 30 surgeries on my leg! I am now the proud owner of an artificial right hip, total femur, knee, and partial tibia. Despite having a very unique leg, I am able to live an amazing and full life.

How are you doing now? What progress are you most proud of?

My biggest joy and accomplishment are my two wonderful children, Jake (age 9) and Anna (age 5). They put smiles on my face daily. And while motherhood with a disability can be challenging, it is by far the most rewarding role I am blessed to live.

What would you want other people in the same position to know?

Living a full life with a limb disability can be hard, but it can be done! I have come to accept that I get to create my own normal and don’t have to compare my way of doing things to anyone else. Asking for help or new ideas from the experts or those that have a similar challenge is one of the best ways to create a forward momentum during a challenging time.

What kind of support did you appreciate most?

Sometimes the smallest of support goes the farthest. A kind word and a small donation to an organization like the Limb Preservation Foundation (LPF) makes a huge difference. Knowing that LPF is helping others with limb challenges and researching to implement scientific advances, warms my heart and gives me the energy to live my life to the fullest.

What was the most challenging part of your journey?

Living with chronic pain from all the limb surgeries has been challenging for sure! Reaching out and working with the experts and utilizing all modalities, emotional and physical, for pain relief allows me to live a full life with the pain.

What was something you didn’t expect on your journey or in recovery?

Having to fight cancer and live life with a limb disability is not fun by any means, but it has also been a blessing in so many ways. I have met wonderful people, like Dr. Wilkins, and have a deep appreciation for life that only comes from experiencing a survivorship journey.

What do you wish people knew about Limb loss?

Limb loss and/or limb challenges does not equate to a life less lived. I love my life and know I will continue to experience wonderful things.

What are you most proud of throughout your journey?

My courage to face all that has come my way with a sense of determination, a positive attitude, and a smile on my face 🙂

What is next for you? What are your hopes for the future? What are some goals you have related to your limb challenge?

Each year I challenge myself to live one new adventure. This year I decided to return to adaptive sit skiing at the National Sport Center for the Disable in Winter Park. My son has challenged me to level up and complete my first blue run this season :-). I am also so excited to tackle this year with my new sidekick, Nova, a service dog (yellow lab) from a fabulous non-profit company titled Freedom Service Dogs. Nova and I are ready to set off in pursuit of new adventures together–I am loving the healing power of the human-animal bond and can’t wait to see what we accomplish together.

How did the Limb Preservation Foundation support you?

LPF has supported me in so many ways. They helped with scholarship money for school and provided financial assistance with housing expenses when as a young adult I couldn’t work following surgery. They also help to advance better treatment options through research. I also can’t forget all the fun I’ve had at their fundraiser balls—the Harry Potter Gala was a favorite.

Why would you recommend that other people facing a limb challenge reach out to the Limb Preservation Foundation?

LPF has played an essential role in my survivorship journey. I recommend anyone living with a limb challenge and/or those caring for someone with a limb challenge to reach out to LPF. The support they offer is unprecedented–it encompasses all areas of wellbeing, including financial, physical, emotional, research treatment options, medical expert advice, and more. Thank you LPF for offering hope, help, and possibilities!