Hi I’m Kate Elliott. I’m a right above knee amputee with two teenage children ( both adopted) and a partner. We’re both Head teachers so life is busy and frequently challenging! Lockdown has given us our share of new challenges, but I feel able to cope with most things after having had my leg amputated in October 2017.
I had been diagnosed with upper thigh muscle cancer ( sarcoma) in August 2012 and had undergone regular surgeries to have the recurring tumour removed. However in 2017, we felt that the sarcoma was not going anywhere and an amputation gave me the best chance to stay alive.
As the amputation was high, my ability to be fully mobile and walking has been severely compromised. Still i remain resolute and determined to walk again without crutches or sticks upon which I currently heavily rely. As a professional, a family member and a parent, I wanted to maintain my current commitments as much as possible so independence and mobility were (and still are) very important to me. I was so lucky to have an employer which valued my service and gave me the chance to heal and review how best I performed my work role. My children are helpful and happy and my partner supportive, so I managed to retain my former life, with modifications (both physically and mentally) to make things as easy as possible. As a head teacher responsible for the education of children in the care system for the London Borough of Hounslow, I can often work from home. Lockdown has given me a good excuse to do that even more often! I enjoy my work and like having the professional identity of head teacher and the worthwhile purpose to support vulnerable children. Such a purpose makes me count my blessings and forget that I am ‘disabled’.
Since my amputation I have valued the support and love of friends and my local church and community. I belong the local choir and ukulele group and am port of the local Sailability team. I have just secured a grant for Sailability from Arctic One, to buy a new dinghy so I’m really proud of that. Sailing gives me a sense of freedom and mobility that i’ve missed as an amputee. I used to enjoy running; now I enjoy sailing.
I suppose my biggest challenge has been to accept my limb difference and to acknowledge that I can’t do all the same things that I did before. But I can do different and I frequently do! Kayaking was my latest effort and although compromised by lockdown, I look forward to trying it again. I do get frustrated by not being able to do little things like pop to the shops to pick up emergency rations. Everything has to be planned now. But that’s ok. I embrace my new life and the challenges and opportunities within it.
Funny moments? Many! More from the self-conscousness of others through not knowing how to be at first. My co-workers often used language associated with legs/mobility without knowing that it was funny! Phrases like ‘putting a step on it’ ‘best foot forwards’ etc were met with humour and understanding. My approach to many things is through humour and I try not to take myself too seriously. I am Kate first an foremost who also happens to be an amputee.
I found Steel Bones online during lockdown when i had the chance to join in a choral activity for a celebration weekend. i was impressed by its ‘can do’ attitude and the clear love and commitment that its members had for Emma, Leigh and each other. Since then I’ve enjoyed a couple of coffee mornings and had some lovely conversations with Steel Bones members. I do hope that I can continue to join in with more events (work and family permitting)
My plans for the future? Well , I had reconstruction surgery on my stump in February and have juts received my revised socket. So my immediate plans are to strengthen my limb, develop my gait and walk!
I’ll keep you posted but I have great positivity and so see this as a definite ‘can do’.
I’ll share my current affirmation: ‘my ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite’