SOUTHERN COLORADO — April is Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month, and a Colorado woman and cancer survivor is educating others about what her life is like every day.
According to the Amputee Coalition more than 500 people lose a limb each day in the U.S. More than 1,500 military personnel have lost a limb as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but only 2 percent of amputations are caused by cancer; Alyssa Liddle is part of that small number
Liddle lives in Colorado and is a cancer survivor and amputee. After months of chemotherapy, her right leg was amputated. She was diagnosed with stage three Ewing Sarcoma; a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around the bones. She says all of her physical wounds have healed but it's a mental challenge every day to still walk to the car, go grocery shopping, and even getting to the bathroom.
"They really don't prepare you for the mental part," Liddle explained. "I never pictured I'd be getting married but wouldn't be able to walk down the aisle on my own, or not being able to run after my kids."
Liddle says she doesn't mind the stares she gets from kids because she knows they're just curious, but she has had some uncomfortable experiences in public with adults.
"People assume that I am a veteran and I am not," Liddle explained. "I don't claim to be and I have tremendous respect for those who have served, but people shouldn't assume someone's story," she said.
Liddle says not every amputee is willing to explain their injury. It's best to respect everyone's privacy, and what you don't know you can always google.
"I think our society still has a significant stigma around limb loss, and I think our society has a stigma around anyone who is different than ourselves," said Dr. Daniel Lerman, an orthopedic surgeon. Lerman says mental recovery can take years after someone loses a limb.
In the meantime, experts suggest telling our kids that everyone is different in some way. Talking openly about differences shows kids there's nothing to be ashamed of, and removes the stigma around having an amputee.
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