Emily, GUARDIAN® Distal Femur Recipient
Emily, 23 years old, was a division one soccer player at the University of Tennessee, Martin when she was dealt a life changing blow. An avid soccer player since age four, Emily was experiencing throbbing pain in her leg and she knew it went beyond the wear and tear of running up and down the soccer field. An X-ray revealed a bone tumor and, concerned, Emily went in for a biopsy. In April of 2003, the super-star athlete was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – the most common form of bone cancer typically diagnosed and found in children and adolescents.
Emily underwent four rounds of chemotherapy to treat her cancer and had the tumor in her left leg removed. Emily faced the possibility of amputation and she, along with her mother, sought the advice of Mike Neel, MD, orthopedic surgeon at St. Jude Medical Center in Memphis, TN. Dr. Neel recommended an alternative to amputation: a prosthetic, internal implant that would enable Emily to regain some of her active lifestyle.
Under the care and guidance of Dr. Neel Emily was implanted with an internal prosthesis, GUARDIAN® Distal Femur, in her left leg on July 21, 2003. The GUARDIAN® implant is ideal for patients who have experienced severe bone loss and this was the case for Emily. The prosthesis consists of a stem, hinged knee that includes tibial and femoral assemblies and an optional stem centralizer. Since Emily already had strong leg muscles her rehabilitation was considerably faster than a less active patient.
After her recovery, Emily was unable to return to her mid-field position on the soccer field but she did return to her team as an assistant coach and ended up graduating from University of Tennessee, Martin, summa cum laude with a major in Spanish and a minor in travel and tourism. Her cancer went into remission in February 2004 and life is good again for Emily. She credits her mom for being her constant companion and biggest champion during her diagnosis, treatment and recovery. "I’m Emily again instead of Emily the cancer patient and my mom was by me every step of the way." On April 30, 2006 she married her boyfriend of six and half years and she has started her career as an assistant sales coordinator at a resin manufacturer in Tennessee. She loves to ride mountain bikes with her husband, Chris, and they often ride up and down trails in a park near their home in Tennessee.
In July 2006, she underwent her second surgery to replace her first GUARDIAN® implant. Her body was fighting so hard against the cancer during her chemotherapy treatment, her first implant needed a replacement. Again, she is doing great and can’t wait to get back to her active lifestyle made possible by her prosthesis.
"The greatest thing about having this prosthesis is that it is internal. Every time I go out in public I don’t have to open myself up to telling my story. After going through chemo &mdash being bald, sick and gray &mdash I don't stand out anymore. When you are an amputee, you open yourself up to questions. Having an internal prosthesis has allowed me to stand out in other ways besides being a medical mystery &mdash I'm a good friend, good public speaker, good worker...first, and a cancer patient second."
These results are specific to this individual only. Individual results and activity levels after surgery vary and depend on many factors including age, weight and prior activity level.
There are risks and recovery times associated with surgery and there are certain individuals who should not undergo surgery.
Only a physician can tell you if this product and associated procedure are right for you and your unique circumstances. Please consult with a physician for complete information regarding benefits, risks and possible outcomes.