29-year-old model who had her leg amputated at 11 to stop cancer from spreading says she 'feels sexier than ever'
Tessa Synder was diagnosed with cancer in her right femur in the year 2000 and she made the difficult decision to have her leg amputated to give her best chance of surviving
A mother of two and Philadelphia model is opening up about her journey to self-acceptance and self-love after she had to have her leg amputated at the young age of 11-year-old to increase the chances of surviving cancer.
29-year-old Tessa Synder was diagnosed with cancer in her right femur in the year 2000. The doctors initially thought she was suffering from growing pains before diagnosing her with cancer. A couple of months later, she made the difficult call to have her leg amputated in order to give her best chance of surviving.
After that difficult decision, she struggled for many years with body image issues as she lost her long brown hair. She also felt out of place and friendless and had to learn how to walk again. It has now been around two decades since the amputation and Tessa has started to accept and embrace her decision which gave her a chance to live, grow, and start a family.
As reported by Mirror, she said, "I love that at almost 30-years-old I feel more beautiful and sexier than ever. I can’t believe I used to let so many things get to me. Cancer sucks and having one leg may not be ideal sometimes, but I was given a second chance at life". Tessa is sharing her story in hopes that she will inspire other amputees to embrace and accept their wounds and scars as well.
"It’s taken me almost 20 years to fully accept my prosthesis. There are days when I don’t want to wear it or days when it hurts, and it gives me sores. But one thing I realized is that I couldn’t keep living my life hating something that I couldn’t change," Synder added. She is now the mother of two and lives with her husband Casey.
She recalled how she would have pains in the leg in the year 2000 but only found out about her osteogenic sarcoma a few months later. "Little by little, I would wake up every day for school and the pain would get worse every morning. One morning, I woke up in tears because it took a good couple of minutes for me to be able to bend my leg," she shared.
After the pain became unbearable she was required to take an MRI. She also remembers the day she received the unfortunate news which was 10 days after she had a biopsy done on her leg. "I was sitting in a room being checked out by the surgeon, making sure the stitches had healed. He stood in front of me and explained as simply as he could to an 11-year-old that I had cancer," she recalled.
Once she started her treatment, she was very sick and could not keep any food down. "I couldn’t keep food down, so I had a feeding tube inserted in me. I had no outside life because I was in the hospital for five days a week most weeks," she shared.
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Time to be vulnerable. I’ve been seeing my picture get reposted around the internet after @bitesizedsis posted me as her #wcw 😍While some companies kept the story straight, some have not, & some decided to just write their own thing. So I feel the need to come correct on some nasty things I’ve seen written. . Yes- both of these pictures are ME & they are real. I had cancer when I was a child. The picture on the left was one of the last photos of me taken..after chemotherapy started, after my hair started falling out (which is why it’s so thin and barely there). I wanted to put my hair in a pony tail 1 last time (I know, kinda funny😆). I underwent an above knee amputation to save my life. Yes-that IS a prosthetic leg. Yes-that is MY hair now, not a wig. Yes-I have 2 beautiful kids & a husband. . For every single positive comment that I’ve seen on these posts, THANK YOU. I read every single one of them & not one went unnoticed. For every negative, there were a bunch more positive, & even some of you came to my defense to clap back (yup, I read them too😂🙏🏼). My goal to even be open about this, is because I remember that little girl on the left, the way she felt, her fears, but also her dreams. If I can inspire 1 child, 1 family... God made my purpose worth it.
Two months later, her parents asked her to consider amputation above where the tumor was to limit the chance of it ever coming back. "I think my parents wanted to give me some sort of power by giving me the chance to decide what I wanted to do. They showed me pictures of people who went on to live great lives and explained I’d be able to walk, run and play sports again," she continued.
"Even in my 11-year-old mind, I thought, "If I could get rid of my leg and never have to go through this again, why not?" she added. Once the amputation was done, she was greeted by her parents with hugs and kisses. She remembers being on a morphine drip and telling her father, "Dad, I did it".
This phrase is something which her father often repeats to her, and Tessa added, "He’ll never let me live that down, as he shouldn’t". Once the surgery was done, her struggles had only just begun. "There were countless times of frustration and anger, but not once did I want to give up," she added.
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I’m so excited to finally share that my website is now LIVE! . I’ve always wanted to create a keepsake where I can express my thoughts & share life experiences. It wasn’t until recently while reading all of your beautiful comments & messages that I realized you all want to know MORE! I’m happy to say that I am SO excited to share more of my life with you all! I will randomly post blogs as you guys request or want to know more. . Click the link in my bio to get a first look at my cancer story through my eyes, along with my first blog featuring my FULL interview from the fashion show I did. I am so excited to be starting this journey with you all!💕
In the year 2001, she was declared cancer free and said, "The year of 2001 was a new year for the new me. I focused on becoming stronger while learning how to walk with a prosthesis. My first prosthetic didn’t bend at the knee, but it was specifically designed to gain strength and mobility, so I could "feel" what it was like to stand on two feet again after three months of not being able to".
After many years of struggling with her condition and image, she emerged victorious and shared, "My prosthetic is a part of me and it’s who I am. It gives me the ability to take me places I want to go and to be able to experience life with my children and partner. I can’t even remember what life was like on my original two legs. This is normal now".
"Growth is such a beautiful thing that we all have the ability to achieve," she said. "Self-acceptance, growing and learning to love ourselves are the keys to happiness in my eyes. If I get to help one person through my journey, then my purpose on Earth is worth it. Almost 20 years later, I am proud to say to that little 11-year-old girl, thank you for not giving up," she concluded.