When Tessa Snyder was only 11, she made a decision that would alter the way she looked quite likely forever. But it’s not like she had a lot of choices either. At such a tender young age, she had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. To treat her, she had to undergo a treatment that caused her to lose two things that she desperately loved. Sadly, only one of these things would grow back. But jump a couple of years later and you’ll see that her big decision as a child certainly didn’t affect the amazing individual this woman grew into.
When Tessa Snyder from Philadelphia was 11, she chose to have her right leg amputated to save her life. Snyder was diagnosed with bone cancer, which meant she had to undergo chemotherapy for seven months. Then her family told her that the best way to keep the tumor from coming back was to amputate her leg. It was a tough call, but she did it.
Snyder was confined to a wheelchair and monitored for three months to ensure the cancer was gone. In January 2001, doctors told her that she was cancer-free. It was an unforgettable day, but she knew that without her leg, her life would never be the same again. And no matter how badly she tried to forget, the reflection in the mirror reminded her of what she’d been through.
When she first came to the hospital, she had long brown hair, which she loved as much as her right leg. The doctors and nurses warned her the chemotherapy would cause hair loss, so they asked her to consider cutting it off, which she did. But she felt vulnerable and weird. To fit in, she tried on wigs like this one.
Fortunately, her cancer ordeal is far behind her, but she can still remember the agony she had felt. She told the Daily Mirror, “I had chemotherapy almost every week for about seven months. After the first two months of chemotherapy, the idea of an amputation was brought up to me. The procedure would involve cutting above where the tumor was to limit any chance of cancer 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. 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?"
This is Snyder today, and as you can see, she’s looking amazingly healthy. Over the years, she learned to accept her prosthetic leg, which rewarded her by giving her the mobility. Now she’s embracing everything that her artificial limb has done for, and she’s proud of her younger self for making the decision that saved her life. She said, “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.”
It was 2001, and it was a new year, and she felt like a new person with the prosthetic limb she had on. It took her a while to get used to walking with a prosthetic leg, which didn’t initially bend at the knee. She was frustrated at first, but never gave up. Still, she felt out of place, especially in school. But eventually, she realized that despite everything, she was one lucky young woman.
It’s been a long road getting from where she was to where she is now, but she’ll never forget it either. She explained, “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. 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."
Tessa is now a happily married woman with a husband named Casey, and they have two lovely sons. Now she hopes to inspire other amputees by showing them that it’s possible to have a normal, happy life. Snyder 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."