Rare amputation procedure gives bone cancer survivor a second chance

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Elise Robinson's journey began when she was just 8 years old. After being diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma in her right knee, treatments needed to start right away.

"The immediate need is to start chemo because it's an aggressive cancer," Elise's mother Jennifer said.

On top of chemotherapy, surgery was needed to rid her body of the tumor.

"Before we went in, my dad sat me down and said, 'Elise, we might need to amputate,'" Elise told ABC13.

The Robinson family was given a few options and rotationplasty was one of them.

Oncologist Valerae Lewis with MD Anderson said, "Essentially, it's taking out the knee or the bone on top of the bone below the knee, shortening the limb and rotating the foot. So the foot is now backwards."

This is done to allow the foot to fit into the prosthetic a lot easier, acting as a natural knee for the patient.

"Our first reaction was that looks very strange. How are people going to accept our daughter? Whereas the kids they just see, look what I can do with this, which is how you should be looking at it," Jennifer said.

"So I was thinking oh well if I'm going to have an amputation, I'm going to have to be able to do all the stuff," Elise said.

Rotationplasty patients still have a knee, which can give them an advantage versus those with above the knee amputations. Elise was active in sports and wanted to continue to do so growing up, which is why she chose this option. After completing chemo, she focused on physical therapy and walking again. Today, she's back on the softball team.

"And now I'm learning to run and it's really a struggle having to jump off of this leg onto this leg," Elise said.

To give back, the family set up the Robinson Osteosarcoma Fund.

"With the stipulation that any money from this fund, if it supports a clinical trial, that clinical trial needs to be open to all ages," Jennifer said.

Its purpose is to help those who might receive the same diagnosis in the future, so they'll have better options for treatment.
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