A super-fit university graduate chose to have his own leg amputated after a suspected sporting injury turned out to be a rare form of bone cancer.
Jamie Hancock, 23, thought the pain in his lower left leg was due to overworking in the gym, but went for an x-ray when it got worse during a strenous hiking trip.
Tests revealed Jamie had a 12cm tumour – the size of a grapefruit – in his lower leg.
He started chemotherapy in a bid to shrink the tumour – but was told to decide between a fused ankle and 18 months in plaster, or an amputation below the knee.
Trainee chartered surveyor Jamie told surgeons to cut off his leg, and is now in remission after a total of 18 gruelling chemotherapy sessions.
Not only has Jamie beaten the cancer – he also overcame coronavirus, which he caught during his final treatment.
Jamie, from Alderley Edge, Cheshire, now has a prosthetic leg, and is Covid-19 and cancer free.
University of Manchester graduate Jamie said: “I was given two options that took months of sleepless nights to decide on. The first was a bone graft, the riskier option.
“This would’ve left me with a fused ankle – aka club foot – and therefore very little mobility.
“The second was a below the knee amputation, the safer route, which would remove the tumor with a large margin of healthy bone.
“Eventually I made my decision when I was asked ‘why keep a foot if it won’t act as a foot?’, this was when I decided I had to amputate.
“I realised from an oncological view it would be selfish to the people around me to keep my leg.
“I want the most mobile lifestyle I can have growing up and with any kids I may have in the future.”
Jamie started getting pains in his left distal tibia last summer, and it became so unbearable during a hiking holiday in California, he had an x-ray on August 28, 2019.
He was referred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham where he had a biopsy and was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma – a rare bone cancer in October 2019.
Jamie started chemotherapy which he said was “without a doubt one of the toughest weeks of my life”.
He said: “Mentally, I was as prepared as I could be and was slightly excited about the challenge.
“My oncologist was telling me it is ‘brutal’ and I would be ‘begging’ him to stop the treatment towards the end. I began my first round of chemotherapy beginning of October.
“I felt like I had horrendous food poisoning for about two weeks, before I began to perk up, then a day later I was back in hospital with an infection that ended up with me being on strong antibiotics again, making me feel unbearably nauseous.
“Then came the mouth ulcers, which at times left me in pain even drinking water. I would wake up with a bloodied mouth, unable to speak.
“I was given high doses of morphine to relieve the pain, which had me drifting in and out of consciousness for days of my treatment.
“Coming off that was equally as bad as the chemo, as it had me going cold turkey and suffering the horrific effects of withdrawal.
“This was recurring for almost every round of all 18 treatments.”
Jamie could have had a bone graft – the riskier option which would have left him with a fused ankle, a skin graft, and a high chance of infection.
He said: “The only real plus side to this was that I could keep my foot.”
But he opted for a below the knee amputation, to remove the tumor with a large portion of healthy bone.
Jamie finished chemotherapy on June 4, and rang the bell to signal he was in remission only to return to hospital just four days later after testing positive for COVID-19.
It is thought that he picked up the virus whilst going in and out of hospital during his final few days of treatment.
He said: “Ten days on I tested negative for coronavirus and after enduring it through chemotherapy, I have finally recovered.”
Jamie now plans to start up his own charity and wants to compete in the Paralympics.
His sister, Sophie Hancock, 20, a student, is raising money for a running blade.