Teen with cancer ‘flipped coin’ to decide whether or not to amputate leg

Alexander Parra was diagnosed with cancer twice in his teens

Laura Hampson
Thursday 20 January 2022 16:50 GMT

A two-time cancer survivor says he “flipped a coin” when deciding whether or not to amputate his leg.

Alexander Parra, 20, was just 15 when he was first diagnosed with cancer and was told he would need chemotherapy for the next nine months.

Parra, who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, said: “My knee started hurting way more than usual and then all of a sudden, a huge lump showed up on my knee. The doctors brought me in for an appointment where they sat me down and they told me I had cancer.

“It was the last thing I expected. Who thinks their junior year of high school is going to start with chemo? The chemo sucked. It killed my body to cure my body.”

Two months into the treatment, doctors told him his tumour wasn’t being affected in the way they had anticipated and asked the teen to decide between a knee replacement or to amputate his leg.

Parra decided to flip a coin to make the decision, and he chose amputation.

After his leg was amputated, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread and said if he had chosen the knee replacement, they would have never made this discovery.

“I had no idea what to do so I flipped a coin and it landed on amputation. If it hadn’t, I would be dead,” he said.

“Learning how to walk again was so hard - I had to learn how to do something that I thought I knew so well.”

He was declared cancer-free in 2017, but the following year found out he had stage 4 lung cancer. He was given three months to live with a 10 per cent survival rate.

Parra’s tumour was removed and he spent six months at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York before being declared cancer-free once again in 2019.

Now, three years on, Parra is training to become a Paralympic swimmer.

He said: “One thing I’ve learned from cancer is that you can never give up. I was placed in front of the impossible but I chose to keep fighting.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is prove the doctors wrong and defy the odds. I’ve done that now and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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