Cancer is not a sentence

Interview with a Belarusian woman who had her arm amputated at 32.

Olga Korenevskaya-arm amputation

If you look at the photo of Olga Korenevskaya from Minsk, a charming girl will be looking at you. She smiles in the photographs, but there is a slight sadness in her eyes, the one that comes from someone who has irrevocably lost something of value. Olga lost her arm amputation. At 32. But the girl is not discouraged. He still smiles, believes in good things and continues to fight cancer.

When Olga was 3 years old, she broke her leg – the girl has fragile bones. Doctors performed about 5 operations on her. But the fracture left unpleasant consequences for life – the leg became 10 cm shorter, which is why the girl needs to constantly wear an orthosis. But this is not the only thing that darkened Olga’s life.

“In just 2 weeks the tumor has grown by 15 cm.”

I have a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. This is quite rare. At the same time, tumors sometimes appear on the body – they are benign. However, they can sometimes become cancerous. At the age of 14, a benign tumor appeared on the arm, which was removed. This happened again when I was 20 and 23, and in February 2017, I again discovered a tumor on my arm. I went to the doctor, they made a biopsy, diagnosed with stage 3 sarcoma. The tumor was excised. After the operation, radiation therapy was started. And at this time there was a relapse. The tumor has grown again. I was prescribed two medications that might have worked. But they didn’t help. There was only one thing left – amputation. The neoplasm was localized in the armpit, on the nerve plexus. Cutting it out was dangerous – it could cause bleeding. And 6 courses of “chemistry” and 33 courses of radiation therapy did not help reduce the tumor.

How does it feel to lose your hand at 32? How to live with this young beautiful girl? Olga did not want to experience this on herself and decided to fight for the hand.

I started looking for options. I have been in different clinics in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Nobody undertook the operation there. I went to Germany. One of the clinics agreed to help. They examined me and took a biopsy. But after this procedure, the wound did not heal, and the tumor began to come out. In just 2 weeks, he grew by 15 cm, began to bleed and rot. I thought I was going to bleed out. I was advised to go to Israel, but with such a wound I was not even allowed to board the plane.

“I can still feel my amputated arm.”

Olga Korenevskaya

When it became clear that Olga’s hand could not be saved, she had to be amputated. The girl was operated on in 2019 in Borovlyany.

I came home a week after the operation. I had phantom pains. They are still there. I feel my hand, fingers, after amputation, the metastasis in the lung was removed. Then they examined it again. Everything was fine in April. And in July, metastases were again found and targeted therapy was prescribed. It did not help. After that, she was prescribed “red” chemotherapy – the strongest. My bones ached and my hair fell out. But it was still bearable. But in the first year of “chemistry” I said goodbye to my life – I could not drink, I immediately felt bad. In 2 weeks I lost 10 kg. It was still difficult to breathe, 3-4 steps could not climb. I don’t know what would have happened if Mom hadn’t given me a lime one day. I ate it and it went away. The ability to drink has returned. There were 6 courses of “red” chemotherapy, but they did not help. Now I have been drinking a new drug for 3 months already. Hope this helps. However, it is not in Belarus, and it is necessary to buy it abroad so that the treatment is not interrupted. Hope it gets bought again soon.

In everyday life, the girl helps her mother. Even the elementary things that a person with two hands does automatically is difficult for Olga – dressing, tying shoelaces, cooking dinner.

Every time you learn something new. Everything is gradual. Of course, a prosthesis is possible, but first you need to be cured.

Work saves the girl from negative thoughts. Olga has two higher educations – a psychologist and a tourism manager. Even the girl graduated from a large number of different courses – she always tried to learn new things and improve. Olga has already chosen the following courses she wants to take – metaphorical cards and art therapy.

Now I work as an SMM specialist with 0.25 points. I can’t do this anymore. Of course, if a person is sick, health is more important than work. I have a disability group since childhood. Work has always been difficult to find. Here’s an example: in 2013, they didn’t take me as a watchman to any institution. With two higher educations!

“My worldview changed after my illness – I began to value myself more”


Doubtful looks, careless questions. Olga faced this more than once. A young beautiful girl who does not have an arm involuntarily becomes the object of close attention. On the street, in transport, in shopping centers. But Olga treats such situations calmly and even with humor.

I recently thought: if I tell the overly curious that I returned from China and my arm fell off, wouldn’t it be too harsh?

"I can still feel my amputated arm."

Olga is an optimist in life. From school, when I was the target of other kids’ jokes.

When in childhood I walked on crutches, they pointed at me and called me a crutch. There was a mockery. My backpack was kicked. I knew there was nothing I could do. They could throw a rag at me. But I was still always a positive person, I did not withdraw into myself. I have always believed in good things, believed in people. What has changed in me because of the illness? I have never shown others that I am not well before. But now I allow myself to be sad, and I do it openly. I thought it was bad to complain and talk about problems. Now I say that I have a disability group. Essentially not a complaint. There are brunettes, there are blondes, there is a group of disabilities. I can be irritable, angry, but not because I am disabled, but because I am human! And I have emotions. My worldview after the illness did not change, like others. Many are becoming more knowledgeable. But before I was conscious and always appreciated life. I realized, for example, how lucky girls are who can wear heels, a skirt, tight pants, who can swim in the pool without pointing at them. I spent a lot of time in hospitals and saw things that others did not see. I saw children who, after accidents, could not walk, because the children were dying … Even then, everything changed for me. And now I’m starting to appreciate myself more. Even thanks to my illness, I realized that I should not postpone everything for later.

Olga has several cherished desires. And even if there are no goldfish in the real world that can fulfill them, the girl does not stop believing that her dreams will come true.

The most unusual wishes are to visit Tibet and fly in a hot air balloon. I also want to start my own business someday. But my main dream is to get well.

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