- Neesha Narainsamy, 52, had her leg amputated due to cancer, but that has not stopped her from living a happy and fulfilled life.
- It took time for her to adjust to a new way of doing things and accept that she is an amputee, but now she is proud and loud about it.
- After telling herself that she was differently-abled and had another chance at life, she embraced her life as it was.
While pregnant with her 22-year-old son, Neesha Narainsamy discovered a concerning lump in her knee. The doctors removed the lump, but they also discovered it was cancerous.
"It was identified as fibro sarcoma, a type of cancer that attacks soft tissue. It was the worst news that my family and I could receive. We had a choice to either re-operate and remove all remnants of cancer or undergo radiation therapy to kill all remaining cancer cells. My surgeon and oncologist concluded that radiation therapy was the best choice," Neesha says.
READ MORE | Woman who lost her leg due to overgrown tumour credits pole dancing for giving her new lease on life
In the year 2000, she had radiation every morning before she went to work, and it went on for two months until she was cancer-free.
Four years later, she had her second son and decided to be a stay at home mom. But in 2009, her life was turned upside down yet again.
Neesha Narainsamy. Image supplied by Neesha
READ MORE | FEEL GOOD | 23-year-old woman is cancer free after 12 chemo sessions, 5 scans and 4 surgeries
"The calf muscle on my right leg became inflamed and painful. Upon consulting my surgeon, she had a biopsy done. You can only imagine what was going through my mind," Neesha says. When the results came back, she found out the cancer was back.
"This was very traumatic for me, and it was extremely difficult to be positive, but I persevered. I had to undergo reconstructive surgery on my calf after the doctors removed the tumour," she adds.
Once again, her fighting spirit kicked in, and she was able to move on with her life. But years on, a big health scare hit.
The mother of two says, "In 2013, my right ankle started to swell, and the pain was unbearable. I had difficulty walking. An MRI scan was done, and this time it showed tumours between my knee and ankle. The tumours were in an advanced stage, and my surgeon and oncologist decided that the best option would be to amputate my right leg above the knee before cancer spread to other parts of my body. It all seemed unreal, like a bad dream. This was the most difficult decision that I had to make. I questioned God, 'why me?'"
READ MORE | Artist opts to have leg amputated years after cancer op despite contrary advice, she’s much happier
Neesha had a choice to either keep asking 'why?' or to make the most of the life she had. It was tough, she tells us.
"I had to learn how to walk with crutches and a walking frame. Having a bath and dressing up was a nightmare. I was frustrated as I could not do these simple things independently. Until you cannot do it for yourself, how often do we take these small things for granted? I had a setback when I forgot that I had only one leg," she says.
"I had a bad fall and had to be operated on again. The constant fear of falling again made walking very difficult. Eventually, I realised that my ability was stronger than my disability, and I overcame my fear."
READ MORE | Model who lost leg due to cancer credits social media with improving her self-esteem despite trolling
Her family was supportive and loving. That helped her adjust to life as an amputee. Neesha says her mother, who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2020, was an amazing woman and her pillar of strength.
Her sons made the moment lighter as they would joke about it, saying she had a bionic leg after getting a prosthetic leg.
"If you don't see the humour in such an intense situation, it will take over you. It is not all doom and gloom. I don't have to follow long queues at the bank or Home Affairs – we all know what a nightmare that is," she says.
"At work, people open doors for me and enter the lifts first. We are allowed to park close to the entrance of major retail stores and don't have to drive around looking for parking."
Neesha Narainsamy received an award for her resilience at work. Image supplied by Neesha
READ MORE | Woman with amputated leg due to rare illness shared with twin says she sometimes still feels her toes
She promised to hold her head up high and gained the confidence to be independent again.
In 2016, Neesha went back to work.
"I was given a second chance in life. When at work, I tell myself that I am not disabled – but just differently-abled. I can perform my duties just as well as any person with two 'normal' legs," she says.
"A positive mindset has helped me lead as normal a life as possible and forget that I have a disability. No matter your disability, it's entirely possible to overcome the challenges you face and enjoy a fulfilling life. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up and most importantly, never give up! It has taken me a long time to accept what has happened to me, but today I am happy to say that I am an amputee and I am proud of it."
Neesha is passionate about sharing her story and inspiring other people. She was able to do this when she featured in an inspirational book called The African Dream – Sunflower effect by Dr Marlini Nair-Moodley which features a short story about her life.
Do you have an inspirational story to share? Tell us about it here.
Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.