After discovering a rare malignancy in her knee pain, a woman decides to have her leg amputated.


A 29-year-old Glasgow woman was astonished to learn that the cause of her persistent knee discomfort was a rare cancer.

Rebekah Laverty endured years of agonizing knee pain before learning in 2019 that she had bursitis, an inflammatory illness that produces excruciating swelling.

However, an MRI revealed she actually had a 13cm malignant tumor above her right knee after years of ineffective therapy.

The sort of cancer she has, she says, “is typically detected in the arms, legs, or close to joints, such as the wrist or ankle, but it’s so rare that I’ve been told a GP will maybe see one instance in their whole career”—thus mine wasn’t picked up.

‘Covid also caused a delay in my recommendations,’ I said. I wasn’t referred for an MRI or given any answers until September 2021.

“At a self-retained appointment, I was informed that I had this malignancy. I had no hope that this time would be any different because by that point I had attended to several appointments without receiving any answers.

I was immediately sent to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre to discuss my treatment after I called my spouse in shock.

They were outstanding. I received care as soon as my diagnosis was made.

She suffered with knee pain for years (Picture: Jam Press)

Rebekah was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects soft tissue like muscles and ligaments, following a biopsy.

The 29-year-old was informed that she need 25 cycles of radiotherapy and three to four rounds of chemotherapy. In order to preserve her fertility before treatment, she also made the decision to freeze her eggs.

Every four-day cycle of chemotherapy required me to spend an additional night in the hospital, she says.

“I was really ill, required blood transfusions, and had completely lost all of my hair.”

Thank goodness, other from some little redness in the treatment location, I never experienced any adverse effects from radiotherapy.

The tumour surrounding her right knee (Picture: Jam Press)

Following these therapies, Rebekah was presented with three surgical alternatives, two of which would allow her to keep her limb and one of which was amputation.

She thought long and hard before choosing the latter.

It was the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make, Rebekah continues.

I was prepared for my overnight transformation from a physically fit person to a crippled person.

But I also understood that the best course of action for giving me the greatest chance conceivable was amputation.

I was told that the years of attempts to drain what they believed to be fluid from my leg and the numerous injections I received near my knee may have shifted any cancer cells, and if I were to keep my leg, another tumor might grow over time.

That would have caused endless anxiety,

‘I knew I was going to go from an able-bodied person to a disabled person overnight’ (Picture: Jam Press)

Rebekah is currently recovering from surgery with weekly physiotherapy treatments, and she travels around in a wheelchair or zimmer frame.

She continues, “In the first few days following my leg amputation, I was still able to feel the lower portion of my leg, could “move my toes,” and felt like my foot was itchy.

“Over time, this has lessened and now only occurs sporadically, but I still experience persistent pins and needles and throbbing aches that last all day and all night,” the patient said.

We are still looking for the right prescription that will work for me; it’s a work in progress.

Now she is adjusting to life without her right leg (Picture: Jam Press)

In addition, she is currently fundraising for a £90,000 microprocessor mechanical limb that she expects to have by the time she turns 30 the following year.

According to Rebekah, “I am currently completely dependent on my family and I am unable to drive or go upstairs.”

I eventually want to be able to live without restrictions, just like I did when I still had my leg.

I want a prosthetic limb that can perform practically all of the same functions as a natural one.

For my 30th birthday the following year, I’m hoping my girlfriend and I may look forward to a relaxing vacation. By then, I’d like to be standing up and living my life.

That is my objective.

She’s launched a GoFundMe for her bionic leg, with the aim of raising £8,000 towards it. 

Rebekah is also sharing her journey over on her Instagram (@fighting_synovial_sarcoma) and hopes to raise awareness of soft tissue cancer.

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