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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Heroic Decision: Mother Stricken with Cancer Has Leg Amputated to Save Unborn Child

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When Kathleen Osborne of Cambridgeshire, England, was just 11 years old, she developed a lump in her right leg that was very painful.

In 2005, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. She went through multiple procedures, including having most of her kneecap removed, undergoing chemotherapy and having metal rods put into her leg.

The next 11 years of her life were cancer-free. During that time she had two sons: Hayden, now 9, and Leo, now 5.

In 2016, she experienced crippling pain again — but this time, in her side.

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“About three or four months after I had my second son [Leo], I had pain all down my side and I couldn’t move, I was bent over in pain,” she said, according to The Epoch Times. “I had a scan after the doctors found fluid on my lungs and that’s where they saw this big mass on my lung which they couldn’t biopsy as it was touching vital organs.

“It turned out the cancer was back, and within a week, I was back in hospital for chemo. Childhood cancer usually comes back within two or three years, but mine came back after 11. It was really rare, it’s not often they see that so they had to act quickly.”

Again, Osborne endured chemo and surgery to remove part of her lung, and she was reported cancer-free in March 2017.

But in late 2020, things started to go south again. She developed another lump on her right leg, and the pain was so excruciating she was barely able to walk.

The MRI showed that she had cancer, again. It also showed that there was a mass in her pelvic area — and Osborne discovered she was pregnant.

“That’s how I found out I was pregnant — I had no idea,” she said. “It was really scary because then I immediately thought I was going to lose my baby. I’d only just found out about her and then I thought I was going to lose her.

With that mixed news, Osborne had an incredibly difficult choice to make.

“The doctors gave me two choices,” she said. “They said I could either terminate my baby, have chemotherapy, have an operation, and most likely lose my leg, or keep my baby and have my leg amputated straight away.

“They gave me a week to make the decision and told me the sooner I had the surgery, the better.”

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It took her one night to decide.

“I thought I’d rather choose to keep my baby and lose my leg,” she said. “I was probably going to lose my leg anyway so I might as well lose it now and keep my baby.”

Of course, the change would be difficult for her boys to accept, but the 28-year-old knew just how to frame the situation.

“I had to tell my boys before the surgery that my leg was being amputated, but I did it in a fun way to keep them from being scared or worried,” she said. “They love ‘Transformers’ so I said I had something bad in my leg and that the doctors needed to take it away but that ‘Transformers’ were going to make me a new leg.

“They were like, ‘Really?! That’s really cool!’ and then they loved it! It was the only way I could think of how to tell them so I’ve just kept that story going.”

The operation took place when Osborne was four months pregnant, and the recovery was difficult physically and emotionally. But her baby was alive.

In March, another MRI scan discovered cancer had again returned to her lungs. Both lungs were affected this time, and doctors said it was terminal. They could try chemo to shrink the cancer, but first they’d need to deliver baby Aida-May as soon as possible, which ended up being eight weeks early.

“I’m happy I made the decision to lose my leg because it gave me my daughter,” she said. “I wouldn’t have her if I didn’t do it so it’s all been worth it.

“I’d always wanted a little girl after having my two boys first and now she’s here so I’m happy I did it. They’d also always wanted a sister so it’s worked out for the best, to be honest.

“I’m still very happy with my decision.”

Now Osborne is determined to make the best of what time remains. She’s started a Facebook page and crowdfunding to try to go on a few final adventures with her boys and the baby girl she fought so hard for.

“That’s my only focus now, making memories with my children,” she said. “I don’t know how long I have left, it could be years, it could be just months.

“My focus is just doing as much with my kids as possible. As long as they have memories with me and they have as much fun with me as possible over however long we’ve got, then I’m happy.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking