#LanaStrong: Teen cancer patient adjusts to life as an amputee

Connecticut Families

We’ve been following Lana Bargnesi’s journey for a year and a half…from her osteosarcoma diagnosis to her limb salvage surgery, a recurrence of cancer and many rounds of chemotherapy. Now, a big decision is making a big difference, giving her light after a dark time.

Despite rehab and patience, Lana Bargnesi’s leg never really healed after surgery to replace her tibia. “You could see my bone. I could literally touch it,” she explains. Pain was constant, leaving her frustrated and down.

“I think I was just tired. Being 15 and not being able to do something everyone else in my grade was able to do,” she says.

So, Lana made the grueling decision to have her leg removed and life has improved ever since.

“I think we needed to find it out on our own terms instead of going right for it,” she says. “I feel really good right now. I feel like the old Lana isn’t a stranger to me anymore. I am her again.”

That choice created new facets of her journey. She consulted with prosthetic expert Kevin Carroll who worked with Winter, from Dolphin Tale. “He just helped us decide where I should do my amputation – through my knee or above my knee,” Lana explains, noting that “above” meant more mobility.

And, since the surgery, moving has been relatively easy but getting used to her new reality – as an amputee – has been more challenging.

“I just want to be able to know a lot of people going through the same thing so I have more people to fall back on,” she explains. “I really want to find more people like me, you know?”

So, this summer, Lana is heading to Camp No Limits for kids with limb loss where she hopes to make connections.

“I’m really excited,” says the teen cancer survivor, also explaining that she’s planning to launch a blog to raise awareness and inspire others.

“I’ve been six months out of chemo altogether and nothing has come back so we’re just kind of holding our breath from here,” says Lana.

Holding her breath while also moving forward, laughing with her twin sister and best friend, enjoying life as a normal teenager.

But Lana is also gracefully embracing her story and the lessons it’s taught her.

“You just have to be nice to everyone because everyone is going through something you don’t know. It’s very eye opening,” she says.

In coming weeks, Lana expects to get a new prosthetic – basically a computerized leg that will minimize falls while helping her walk, swim and even run into the future.


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