Student becomes top ballerina despite leg amputation
Since she was little, Gabi Shull from Missouri has dreamt of becoming a ballerina on the big stage. But when aged just nine, it seemed as though her dream was shattered forever. After Gabi bruised her knee during an ice-skating fall in 2011, she initially thought it was nothing to worry about. However, it later turned out to be something much more serious.
When it was apparent that the young girl's knee wasn't healing correctly weeks after the fall, her parent's took her to the doctor's. Unfortunately, bad news was awaiting the family: Gabi had osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, and the doctors had no option but to amputate her leg.
Her parents were in so much shock that the doctor had to tell them the diagnosis twice; they simply didn't want to believe it. Being so young at the time, Gabi wasn't able to full comprehend the situation. With tears in her eyes, she asked her parents why it happened. They could only respond by saying, "sometimes bad things happen to good people." This is when the doctors asked the Shulls whether they'd like to try a new surgical method.
Though they wouldn't be able to save her knee, there was hope for Gabi. Doctors proposed her foot be attached to her thigh, so that her ankle could be used as her knee. During this complicated procedure, the foot is turned by 180°, giving the girl the best possible amount of movement through the ankle. An artificial limb is then fitted between the "knee" and foot at a later date.
According to doctors, this would allow her to continue doing sports and dance. Gabi was determined to make this dream come true. With incredible determination, she took on the grueling physiotherapy sessions and continued to train. It took an entire year for her to be able to walk again as the joint was initially very stiff. Despite all the challenges, Gabi remained brave and kept on fighting.
Gabi was later rewarded for her perseverance. Now a teenager, she's back on stage and dances competitively. Who would've thought that was possible?
An inspiration to countless cancer patients around the world, Gabi has also been active as a spokesperson for The Truth 365 organization — a social media campaign that gives a voice to children suffering from cancer. Her dancing gives young cancer sufferers hope, as people quickly forget she's even wearing an artificial leg when she confidently takes to the stage.
Gabi is rightly very proud of what she's achieved. She also has big plans for her future and would like to work in scientific research; her dream now is to work on a cure for cancer so that no one has to go through what she underwent.