One man tap dancing his way to Broadway...with one leg!
Welcome to a new series here on amparo's blog we are simply calling #EmpoweredAmputee.
A platform for amputee's to share their stories. We hope for this to inspire you, or help any amputee's out there going through a similar situation.
Introducing Evan Ruggiero. This is his story.
How did your journey as an amputee begin?
My journey as an amputee began when I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in 2009. After 7 months of surgery, my cancer came back and the only thing my doctors could do to save my life was to amputate my right leg above the knee.
What was the hardest part of your rehabilitation?
The hardest part of my rehabilitation was juggling everything at once, in regards to chemo, physical therapy, and attending college as a full-time musical theatre student. There were weeks when all I wanted to do was be at school but I was sick in a hospital bed. However, I kept my prosthetic leg at the end of my bed and used it as motivation to get better and get walking.
Describe the feeling you had when you put on your first prosthetic leg?
After my amputation on May 21, 2010, I started to undergo chemotherapy. My body weight was constantly changing so getting that test socket and leg was postponed for a couple of months. However, in late July I was able to take delivery of my first leg. Walking with it was very different at first but I was determined to have the most natural gate possible. A couple of weeks later I was no longer needing crutches and was walking completely unassisted. I had a full 3 months of physical therapy where I learned advanced walking maneuvers and how to navigate through everyday life in real-world situations.
What was the hardest moment for you as an amputee and how did you overcome that?
The hardest moment for me as an amputee was the first week when I was incredibly sick from the chemo. I wanted to do everything immediately and I couldn't. I felt discouraged. After watching so much footage of other amputees I wanted to walk right outside and move on with my life. The waiting is what killed me. Since cancer, I have gotten to back everything I love doing in my life and then some. I think I'm more active now with one leg than I ever was with two legs.
What is one thing you are most proud of?
The one thing that I'm most proud of is not giving up when the fight was getting tough. It was brutal, but my love for the performing arts kept me strong. Knowing that one day I would be performing in NYC kept me fighting.
What makes you feel like an #EmpoweredAmputee?
I feel like an empowered amputee every day that I wake up, knowing that I beat cancer, and I'm living each day achieving new goals. I started college with the goal of one day being on Broadway. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and had my leg amputated. After my treatment, I continued with that path. The last 7 years have brought incredible achievements including a Clive Barnes award for my work in a recent off-Broadway musical. I have no doubt that I will make it to Broadway, and I couldn't be more proud to chase my dream as an amputee. There's nothing we can't do. Find your most positive self, and go after your goals.
Keep up with Evan on social media! @Lord_PegLeg