Student who lost her leg to cancer stops hiding her disability online to inspire people to love their bodies.
After being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma (a type of bone cancer) at the age of six and undergoing three years of gruelling treatment, Felicia Cantone came to a decision. At the age of nine, she told her parents ‘let’s get rid of this useless thing’. That ‘useless thing’ was her right leg, which she had amputated above the knee.
Doctors had told Felicia’s family that amputation was the only way she would survive, but the moment her parents had to choose to have her leg removed was still incredibly difficult. ‘It was a big shock to us all,’ says Felicia. ‘Being a minor, I was too young to make the decision, so my parents made it for me. But they did give me the option. ‘When I woke up from the operation I remember being surrounded by family members and flinging off the covers to see my missing leg.’ Felicia, now 22, doesn’t remember much about experiencing illness at such a young age.
‘I’ve just chosen to block out the memories,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I can imagine it was quite hard for my parents trying to tell a child that they are different and things will be different. ‘I remember when I was told about my leg amputation. I screamed and cried but dad gave me some money to go to Hamleys and I soon calmed down. ‘I always wished I was older before loosing my leg so I could have more of a normal lifestyle. But losing my leg so young was probably a good thing as children learn to adapt quicker.’ While Felicia adapted quickly to getting around with one leg, she felt a lot of shame about her body.
Growing up, she wanted to be ‘like the normal kids’, and as she grew older and started using social media, she found herself consciously hiding her disability. ‘I would never post pictures where you could see my disability,’ Felicia explains. ‘Even on dating apps, I’d hide it too.’ Felicia started a separate Instagram account, hidden from her friends, family, and anyone she knew, where she was comfortable sharing photos embracing her disability because she thought no one who knew her in real life would see them. But then she began to get positive feedback from the strangers who followed her page.
Soon, she was building up followers and receiving comments and messages from people thanking her for her openness. In 2017, Felicia made another decision: to make her body positivity page her main Instagram account and ‘come out’ as an amputee. ‘I’ve never looked back,’ she says. ‘It’s who I am – why hide it?
‘It’s something I wanted to do for my own self-esteem but also, I’ve realised there are so many people in the same position as me before, that are insecure and scared to show there disability. Now, Felicia is a body positivity advocate, and shares photos with her body on show, to inspire people to embrace their differences. She tells us: ‘It’s really empowering to know that I’m helping other individuals in a similar position to me to gain confidence within them self. ‘I didn’t realise how much I had an influence on other disabled people.
‘I don’t plan to stop and I hope my page will help more disabled people become more confident just by looking at me doing it.’ Felicia, from Essex, has ditched the prosthetics, in part to stop hiding that she is an amputee, but also because they’re simply too uncomfortable.