Laura Armstrong, 34, was born with rare bone disease fibrous dysplasia in her left fibula that caused her leg to bow and suffer from chronic pain that has progressively got worse.
Laura, who struggles to walk, is unable to move her foot properly and is in constant pain, has had several operations and three rounds of chemo to tackle her problems to no avail.
Determined not to have her life ‘dictated’ by the pain in her leg and facing the prospect of chemo for life to keep the condition in check, Laura is opting to have a below-the-knee amputation on her left leg.
Laura said she hopes that with an ‘active’ prosthetic and wheelchair she’ll be able to do things she loves, including continuing with her successful modelling career as well as travelling, playing sports and dancing at gigs again.
Laura, from West Drayton, London, said: “On and off throughout my adult life, when my leg has been giving me trouble, I’ve always made jokes about how it’d be better if I got it cut off.
“I never actually thought that would happen, I guess most of the jokes I made were before the aggressive fibromatosis diagnosis.
“I don’t want my life to be dictated by it. I didn’t want to have to keep going through chemo every two years for the rest of my life. The pain in my ankle is just getting worse and I’m having to use a walking stick.
“I look back at things I could do two years ago and can’t do now. I just imagine how that will be when I get older. I love going to gigs, concerts and festivals.”
She added: “As scary as it is, it’s just better if I have the amputation now while I’m young I’ll hopefully be able to bounce back from it and recover a lot quicker than if I waited another ten years.”
Since her initial diagnosis Laura has tried steroid injections, orthotics, undergone three surgeries – one on her ankle in 2010, a tumour removal surgery in 2013 and a second removal surgery and fibulectomy in 2014 – and three lots of chemotherapy in 2015, 2017 and 2020.
Laura said: “The fibrous dysplasia was noticed very soon after I was born because my leg was a weird shape, it bowed out and they monitored it from an early age.
“I envied the other children who could effortlessly play sports during PE lessons as I sat on the sidelines. I still envy other adults now, but I try to be positive because there’s always some out there that is so much worse off than I am.”
Despite the enormity of her decision, Laura hopes the operation will help her walk easier, with less pain and be able to enjoy a full and independent life.
Laura said: “About four years ago I remember being out with my mum shopping and I spotted a purple walking stick and I said to her ‘that purple walking stick is cool’ and she asked if I wanted her to buy it for me.
“Admitting I wanted it was a really tough moment, now I use the walking stick all the time. There was already a little seed planted in my head about amputation but it hadn’t started growing yet until I discussed it with the oncologist last year.”
Laura’s operation is scheduled at the Royal Free Hospital in London on 8 April. She’s crowdfunding so she can buy a light-weight ‘active’ wheelchair that easily folds up, a private prosthetic with different ‘feet’ so she can take part in sports, dance and continue modelling.
Any additional funds will be used to adapt the three-storey townhouse she shares with her husband.
Laura said: “I don’t want people thinking I’m being greedy but there are a huge amount of expenses that go with being an amputee. The money will also go towards house adaptations.
“I’m a strong independent woman, I don’t want to rely on other people, I want to be independent. I’m not kidding myself, it’s going to be scary and it’s going to be really, really hard for six to nine months.”
You can donate to the GoFundMe page here. Best of luck, Laura.