ALMOST one year on from making the life-changing decision to undergo amputation surgery, Milford woman Nikki Bradley is on the cusp of another journey.
A teenage survivor of rare bone disease Ewings Sarcoma, Nikki is an adaptive adventurer and motivational speaker telling her own cancer story to help others.
With having faced various issues with her right hip following post cancer treatment, it was living through the Covid-19 pandemic which ultimately led Nikki to make the tough decision to have rotationplasty surgery.
On February 7, 2022, she underwent the specialist surgery in Birmingham Orthopedic Hospital. The surgery sees a portion of the limb being removed, rotated and reattached. In Nikki’s case, the rotationplasty surgery involved the removal of the hip and everything as far down as the knee. Surgeons then took a good part of the leg from the knee down, rotated it 180 degrees and reattached it where her hip once was. This means, that essentially, Nikki’s knee now acts as her hip and her foot acts as her knee joint.
Just a few months ago Nikki was fitted with a prosthetic leg by specialists in Ottobock Ireland in Dublin, and in usual inspirational form Nikki has already hiked in Glenveagh and has set her sights on Errigal in the not too distant future.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week, Nikki spoke of the positives and challenges in the wake of the transformative surgery, and revealed that on the one-year anniversary of her surgery, Nikki will be back in Birmingham having made the decision to have her foot amputated.
“I am getting on fine, I have had my prosthetic leg for a good few months now. There was a transition period getting used to it in the first few weeks but time has been a great help. I’ve managed a hike in Glenveagh and I plan to climb Errigal too. When the snow arrived, I was straight out in it. It was amazing to take my prosthetic leg for a first walk in the snow, I loved every minute of it.
“Having my prosthetic leg fitted before Christmas was lovely because I love that time of year everyone loves to dress up at Christmas. It made it all the more special.
“The only thing that has been challenging with the prosthetic leg was that we were meant to incorporate the ankle into the prosthetic leg but it didn’t work out and that has brought a few challenges with how I walk particularly when going up hills or stairs, which I have to take one at a time because there is no bend in my leg.
“On February 7 it will be a year since I had my surgery and on that date I will be in Birmingham again. It will be very special. I have made the decision to move forward to remove my foot. I kept it to incorporate the ankle into the prosthetic but that didn’t work so it becomes redundant.
“We knew it wasn’t guaranteed to work but I’m grateful to have lived with it for the past year as it was certainly worth trying.
“When you are fitted with a prosthetic leg, it may not be the leg that you have for the entirety of your life and it can have a short shelf life depending on what adaptations are subsequently needed. I have decided to move ahead with having my foot amputated and I am very lucky that I have been in the care of the exceptional medics in Birmingham and the specialists at Ottobock. I’m in safe hands.”
Nikki said she hopes to have the surgery later this year, but for now is pleased with the progress she has made.
“I hope to have the surgery at some point this year. It will take some organisation as the process won’t be for just a weekend. Last year was a big year with lots of consultations and then the surgery and recovery time. I know now of what it entails. For now, I am very ecstatic to be back on two feet.”
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