Gabi Shull

I was nine years old when I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. Before my diagnosis, I had been dancing for many years at Centre Stage Academy of the Performing Arts in Warrensburg, Missouri. I spent several hours each weak practicing and rehearsing with my friends and cancer threatened to take all that away, but I was determined not to give up. I underwent months of intense chemotherapy and medication. I knew that I had to fight cancer and beat it. My friends and family showed great support during the difficult time and it only made me feel stronger than ever before. My dance studio dedicated that spring’s annual recital to me and every dancer was given a ladybug sticker, my symbol. Even though I was not present on stage physically, I was present in everyone’s heart and it gave me the strength and courage to overcome obstacles.

Despite having survived the treatment, I had to get my leg amputated which meant that I couldn’t dance any longer. I was afraid that the cancer was going to take away from me something so dear my heart and that made me tremble with fear. My parents and I had to take the decision of getting rotation plasty done to remove the mid- section of my knee and my ankle joint became my new knee joint. I knew that the surgery was going to change my life, but I also knew that it would allow me to run, play and dance again. I wasn’t used to my new prosthetic leg and being able to take my first steps after the surgery left me overwhelmed. I had to learn how to walk all over again and the process was frustrating as well as exhausting.

The director at my dance studio asked if I wanted to be a part of the spring dance recital and I happily agreed. That’s when I realised that it was time for me to walk without the crutches and I did. I did require support for a while, but soon I regained my confidence and walked like any other person. In less than a year I was able to perform on my wheelchair and at the end of the performance; I stood up and walked towards the stage. At that moment, nothing seemed impossible. I’m also the National Spokesperson for the Truth 365 whose goal is to raise awareness for childhood cancer. I know that I was fortunate enough to win my battle, but there are children still fighting for their lives and I hope that my story inspires people who have given up on life and their passion.