Sport to give strength: Jodie helps other children who have lost limbs
We’re telling the inspirational stories of the children we work with who have used sport to give them strength.
Children like Jodie.
Jodie from West Bromwich had to have her leg amputated in April 2014 after she was diagnosed with bone cancer.
Sporty Jodie has set up her own charity to help other children without limbs. The charity provides special prosthetics that enable children to keep doing the sports and activities they love.
A shocking diagnosis
Jodie was a typical teenage girl who had dreams of being a PE teacher.
She was diagnosed with bone cancer after experiencing pain in her knee. She thought she’d torn a ligament while trampolining. But when the pain got worse and went on for several months, tests showed things were a lot more serious.
She began chemotherapy treatment which meant that she lost her very long hair – something she was dreading. But her “rock” - mum Leasa - had her hair shaved off at the same time in support of Jodie and donated it to charity, which really helped her face the situation.
Learning to walk again
However, the cancer did not respond to the chemotherapy so surgeons explained that the safest option would be to amputate Jodie’s right leg from 20 cm above the tumour.
The operation took place on 14 August 2014 and Jodie began the long journey of healing and getting used to wearing a prosthetic leg which was fitted two months later.
Initially she wore scaffolding, including a belt, around her middle to keep it on but this was removed at the end of January this year – much to her relief.
During all this treatment, Jodie had to miss a year of school.
Devastatingly, her dreams of becoming a PE teacher were shattered – but Jodie just described the time as “kind of a rough year”.
Jodie said: “I didn't even think you could get cancer as a young teenager but I'm so thankful I was lucky and caught it before it spread. I was strangely calm about the operation as I knew it would be saving my life. Afterwards, once I knew how much it would affect my life, it really started to sink in, but you kind of get your own method. I kind of figure things out for myself and stick to it if it works.”
A strength-giving wish
When Jodie turned to us, her wish was to go to Cyprus with her family and best friend. She wanted everyone to have a break and a chance to thank them for their support. She had an amazing holiday there exploring the sights and says it gave her the strength at a she really needed it.
Jodie said: “At the time of my wish I was in a low place because of chemotherapy so it really helped. It was way better than a normal holiday because I was able to go with my friend and we saw and did lots of things that we’d never get the chance to do otherwise.”
Since then, she has gone on to pass her GCSEs with flying colours and is taking Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Social Care for her A levels with a view to studying medicine later.
Giving back to other children
Now Jodie feels ready to give back. She is setting up her own charity – The Jodie Lou Foundation – to help other children who, like her, have lost limbs through cancer or illness.
Jodie said: “The aim of the Jodie Lou Foundation is to give grants to children who’ve lost limbs to help them get a better prosthetic limb than you usually get on the NHS.
“I came up with the idea because I found it quite hard to find people who could help explain what different limbs were available and how certain limbs limited what activities you could do.
“One boy has contacted us because he’d really like to be able to go rock climbing again and do snow sports – it’s heart-breaking to hear how he feels because he can’t do that at the moment.
“But setting up the charity has been much harder than I thought it would be. We’ve had to raise £5,000 to get a registered charity number so that was a struggle. We put on various fundraising events and we’ve now got friends, family and supporters who donate to us. We’re also raising money by putting some charity collection pots in various shops.
“Then we had to make sure the website was set up right, explaining how we’ll help, and go through lots of legal stuff. We’ve got all that sorted now so now it’s a question of getting the word out. We need to get a good amount of money first and then we’ll be able to really help.”