National Amputee Awareness Week prompts important conversations

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Mathew Charnley, Cheryl McDonald, Glenn Hughes and Phillip Nwosu

Glenmore Park local Cheryl McDonald has a strong message for everyone this National Amputee Awareness Week – “I’m a below the knee amputee but I haven’t got a disability”.

Stepping on a piece of glass 22 years ago, Ms McDonald ended up contracting chronic osteomyelitis and septicaemia, which resulted in her right leg having to be amputated from the knee down.

Now, with years of experience and knowledge behind her, Ms McDonald is hoping to reach out to others to let them know that they aren’t alone.

“When you’re in hospital and you become an amputee, you have all that support there, and people are bombarding you with information,” she said.

“But when you do get home and you are on your own and you make your first tea or get your dinner, or have a shower when no one else is around, that is really quite a huge thing.

“So just to know that other people have been through the normal everyday steps when you become an amputee, this is what happens and knowing that there is someone else to talk to.”

With more than 8,000 lower limb amputations performed each year in Australia, one person becomes an amputee about once an hour every day.

It is for this reason Limbs 4 Life created National Amputee Awareness Week, to ensure all amputees and their families felt empowered during their journeys.

Marking the week, which runs from October 4 to 11, Lewis Toffolo from Southern Prosthetics and Orthotics Penrith said a change was needed when it came to addressing people and their different abilities.

“It’s all about how people perceive a disability and not so much about the amputee themselves, but about the broader community,” he said.

“There really shouldn’t be a separate line between an amputee that wants to be in the community and someone that is fully abled.”

Mr Toffolo said it was important to keep having conversations that raised awareness about living with an amputation in the community.

“If we continue to improve on our current funding bodies and people’s perceptions on disability then our community changes vastly,” he said.

For more information or support, contact Limbs 4 Life on 1300 782 231 or visit www.limbs4life.org.au.

Lauren Suttie

Lauren Suttie is the Weekender’s General & Community News journalist.

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