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Lance Colie


April 15, 2024 – It was a sunny day in August, 2006 when I discovered a sizeable lump in my upper left thigh, along my groin. I was 50 years old. Biopsy surgery in late November revealed a rare Liposarcoma (cancer), stage 3. I then received highly targeted radiation treatments to kill the tumor, which were to be followed by limb-saving surgery. My chances of amputation were minimal, but not zero. In late February, 2007, I was wheeled into the operating room, and the tumor was removed. Due to a complication with the veins of my thigh, I underwent five more surgeries over the next 11 days as my leg declined. When the surgeon said we need to consider amputation, I said, “Already done. Let’s do it and move on to healing.” He amputated my left leg at the hip (hip disarticulation-HD) the following day. Hospital physical therapists helped me learn to stand up and walk short distances with a walker within a week so that I could move on to acute rehab. There, I learned how to fall and get back up, navigate and function in my three-floor (and basement) home, and much more. Ten days later, I finished rehab and returned home. I was a single dad, my kids lived with me full-time, and they were in high school. I attended local amputee support group meetings, connected with the Amputee Coalition, and identified my goals for living with limb loss. I studied the various socket and component options for prosthetic legs and then went about interviewing prosthetists – three in all. The one with the least experience with HDs was clearly the best fit with how I liked to work with medical providers, and we got to work. I received my first leg in December 2007, replete with a traditional hinge hip and a microprocessor knee. I loved it! My kids and I named it Charles I, AKA Charlie. I wore the leg all day, every day, from when I get dressed in the morning until I go to sleep at night. As fit issues emerged, I went back to the prosthetist, and he fixed them. Gait training helped me walk with the leg properly. Within a few weeks, I progressed from using crutches with my leg, to using two canes, to using one cane. Two years later, I moved out of my house and into an apartment. My two children had finished high school and were figuring out what they wanted to do next. In 2016, at age 60, I changed career directions and continued to work full time until I retired in June, 2023 at age 67. Today, I am nearly 68 and on my fourth leg (Charles IV). I still wear it all day, every day. In indoor places where there are no stairs or steep inclines and declines, I walk with no aids but my prosthesis. I bring a cane when I go elsewhere to provide backup support when needed. Limb loss certainly changed my life, but it did not diminish it. I can do nearly everything I could do before, just differently. I am single and live alone. I exercise, hike, and do yoga. I drive, travel, enjoy time with family and friends, and more. I also support other amputees as a Certified Peer Visitor, and I mentor cancer patients and caregivers, as well. Limb loss enriched my life in many ways – from creating new opportunities for growth and community to discovering courage, strength, and resilience that I might never have known otherwise. It also helped save my life – February, 2024 marked 17 years cancer-free. Now retired, I am figuring out what I want the rhythm of my new life to be. For all of this, I am deeply grateful.