Kesgrave teenager who lost leg to cancer looks ahead to her future after finishing chemotherapy

Kim Sale pictured at her home in Kesgrave with mum, Kellie Thorndyke.

Kim Sale pictured at her home in Kesgrave with mum, Kellie Thorndyke. - Credit: Archant

Kesgrave teenager Kim Sale says she is looking forward to the rest of her life, almost a year to the day since she was dealt the devastating news that a tumour in her leg was cancerous.

She had initially visited Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department with what she thought was a torn calf muscle, however, on May 13, the teenager was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, an extremely rare form of bone cancer.

Just five months later, on her 14th birthday, she was rushed to hospital by ambulance and told that the tumour had wrapped itself around a band of veins, nerves and arteries within her leg. Her only chance of beating the cancer was to have her right leg amputated above the knee. The operation was on October 23.

The youngster has undergone countless rounds of chemotherapy, each leaving her bed-bound for days, however can now look forward to the rest of her life after completing her final course of treatment on April 2.

“Waking up to find your leg’s not there anymore and trying to walk again is hard,” she said. “One minute you are having fun with your friends and then you have to start from scratch and learn how to walk.

“It takes twice as much energy walking with a prosthetic leg. It weighs about 3.3kg.”

Kim, a keen athlete and sports player, said she now has a new vision of the future and dreams of competing in the Paralympic Games.

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“I just take every day as it comes,” said the teenager, whose favourite sports are basketball and javelin. “I had no idea what was going to happen in the future. I couldn’t plan anything or think about what was going to happen in the future or what I was going to do when I was older.”

The teenager, who began a phased return back to Kesgrave High School in February and hopes to return for Year 10 full-time in September, has just selected her GCSE subjects - among them GCSE PE.

“I just thought ‘go for it’,” she said. “I loved PE before. I’m trying to aim, before I leave school, to do another sports day.

“Because this has happened, it’s opened up a new thought of doing the Paralympics.”

After the diagnosis, Kim’s family launched into fundraising for a prosthetic leg that would enable to sporty teen to continue with her hobbies, while also being more comfortable and natural-looking than those available on the NHS.

Residents of Kesgrave and the wider community threw themselves behind the cause and to date more than £55,000 has been raised.

However, it could cost in the region of £60,000 and would need to be replaced every seven years.

The family hope to be in a position to purchase a leg this summer, and are also currently paying to have an extension to their home to provide a wet room for Kim.

Her mum, Kellie Thorndyke, said: “When they said she has got a tumour my blood ran cold. I didn’t believe what I was hearing.

“One of the first things she said to me was ‘am I going to lose my hair?’ Then ‘am I going to die?’

“We have experienced every emotion possible in the last year. I’m quite an organised person and suddenly everything was out of my control and I couldn’t do anything about it.

“There were days where I would be thinking ‘am I going to be planning her birthday or am I going to be planning a funeral?’ We had no way of knowing whether she would still be here at Christmas.

“The hardest thing was being powerless.

“She had a really admirable amount of strength and determination. She just dealt with it.”

To make a donation to Kim’s cause, visit https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/judebradyf/kimyoullneverwalkalone