I stepped up on to a stile and slipped, spun round in the air, and landed badly on my left hip. The resounding 'snap' and the angle of my thigh bone told me I had broken my thigh.
After an age, in which my husband and son had to run back to the road to show the ambulance where I was, and another wait whilst the paramedics pondered over wether they should bolt-crop the chain holding the fence and 5 bar gate closed, they finally decided to lift me over it, which was extremely painful! Thank goodness for morphine!!
At the hospital I was quizzed on how 'I had REALLY broken my thigh?' as it couldn't possibly have happened in so simple an accident (it's usually a very severe car crash/ plane crash etc). The next day they operated to bolt my femur back together, taking a biopsy at the same time of a strange 'cyst' in my hip area.
I found out on my husband's birthday that I had bone cancer. I had been referred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham and would be going in for a total femural replacement, the 21st person in the UK to receive a whole new titanium thigh bone which meant reduced movement and a scar from knee to above the hip.
The next month, August 2003, my mum found out she had Ovarian cancer. She died on 31st July, 2004. I'm so angry that the cancer I had, prevented me from giving my dear mum more of the support she needed that year. Then, 3 months after the birth of my second child, in February 2006, the tumour returned in my thigh. It was successfully removed at Birmingham. It wasn't easy coping with a 4 year old and a 3 month old when I'd just had another recurrence, but I managed. I lost my godmother in January 2007, who had been a huge help to me whilst I was recovering from both operations. She was my favourite auntie, and cancer took her from me too.
In June, 2007, my third and final child was born, with a life threatening illness, which meant an operation for him that July. It was then I noticed another lump in my thigh, but I tried to ignore it and concentrated on making my son better. In my usual three-monthly check up at the Royal Orthopaedic, the lump was found to be cancer once again, and after another scan it was found that the lump had recurred in my hip too. That was when my surgeon decided the only way forward was to amputate my leg, through the hip. He said ' what would your children rather have? A mum with one leg, or no mum at all?' From then on my decision was an easy one!
My operation took place on my middle-son's 2nd birthday. It wasn't the last of my troubles unfortunately, as, in the beginning of November 2009, I had to have some tiny tumours removed from my lungs, and my Dad died suddenly in his sleep the same month. But apart from all that I'm ok (!).
I've come to the conclusion that life really isn't fair and I'm sure a lot of you reading this will agree. It always seems the nicest people seem to suffer whilst the worst seem to float through life getting all the rewards. However, if I thought too long about that I'd have gone round the bend by now, and I have to keep myself sane for the good of my husband and three children. When it all gets too much, I just look at my kids and put on a brave, happy face for their benefit. My youngest son was 5 months old when I lost my leg. To be honest, I don't know how I managed to carry on. He is 5 and a half now and a lot easier to look after! I still do all my own housework, even if I don't 'wear' my prosthesis much, I prefer to hop on one leg around the house, just for comfort (if you saw my prosthesis you'd understand!). I always reiterate to my children that anyone can achieve absolutely ANYTHING, if they have a positive attitude.
My surgeon asked me would I mind talking to a lady about to undergo the same operation as me, to give her some support and advice. I jumped at the chance! I wish I'd had someone to talk to in the same situation, so I really love my new role being a friend and 'confidante' to others in the same predicament as me. I feel that some good has come out of a horrible situation, and it gives me a warmth in my heart. I wish I could help more! Anyone in my locality who has discovered they have cancer comes to me to talk. It seems to help more when they can talk to someone who can truly empathise.
If I could give an open piece of advice to anyone reading this- please don't bottle up your feelings in front of those you love. I think that by pretending to be 'fine' I actually ostracised myself when what I really needed was lots of hugs, and lots of love.