Sarah Hughes lost her leg almost four years ago after battling sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Here she explains the story behind her amputation, discovering a new way of life through charity work, and the advanced prosthetic knee that has given her new hope for the future.
Sarah, of Whitchurch, Shropshire, was just 31 when her world was turned upside down due to the amputation of her leg. The ordeal began when, after three operations to try to fix ongoing issues, including her knee locking in position, she demanded a second opinion and a cancer diagnosis was revealed. Being a mum to her eight-year-old daughter and the deputy manager of a children’s nursery, Sarah was worried about what the impact that the loss of her leg would be on her busy and active life.
Following her above-knee amputation in July 2014, she received her first prosthesis, a basic mechanical knee. It was heavy and she wore a cosmesis to cover it. Despite this she enjoyed having the chance to walk around and spend time with her family, although she would usually use a stick for extra safety. By December 2014 she was driving again, so she felt that within about 6 months she had already started to rebuild her life and get her independence back.
And while Sarah was unable to return to her career in childcare, her determined nature led her to soon pursue new opportunities, including returning to education to undertake a child psychology course and a learning difficulties course, volunteering at the Severn Hospice charity shop before becoming the deputy manager of The Headway Brain Injury Association charity shop in her local area. Having a purpose, and a team to run, helped Sarah regain her confidence.
This year, through the limb centre in Shrewsbury, Sarah’s life changed again. The limb centre gave her the chance to trail the C-Leg 4, complete with its microprocessor technology. From her first steps, she felt the difference the C-Leg gave to her gait and overall comfort. “I used to hip-hitch, and would regularly take painkillers before the C-Leg. Now I’m pain free and I’m far more confident when out and about. I used the escalator for the first time recently! It’s still hard work, but life has been made a lot easier with the C-Leg.”
The world is now Sarah’s oyster and she’s looking forward to a more mobile future, she and her family have been on a canal boat holiday and are all set for their annual family break to Pembrokeshire. She’s also gained the confidence to use an escalator for the first time, has gone go-karting, attended a concert and has signed up to learn skiing at an indoor ski centre in Manchester.
She added: “I have a hospital buddy, a mum my age who has a young son. We’ve become friends — I see her, and I message her weekly and I tell her that there is a way forward; I want to help people see what life can be like. And for anyone who is active, the C-Leg is the way forward. It gives you so much independence, and I’d recommend it to everyone.”