Kai Heslop had his left leg amputated above the knee at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital on May 11, after being diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma in January.
But the Horsley Hill teenager refused to be beaten by his health battle and amazed doctors by getting up and walking using a zimmer frame the day after surgery.
An incredible video captured by his uncle, Stephen Lomas, even shows Kai playing football with his girlfriend, Nicole Hughes, while on crutches following his return home on May 19.
Praising Kai’s bravery, Steven, 35, said: “He is doing brilliantly.
“We thought he would be bed bound for a couple of weeks until he had fully recovered but he was straight up the day after the surgery and was using a zimmer frame.
“He was on crutches a couple of days after that – he couldn’t wait to get on the crutches and get up and about.
“The longer he stayed in bed in hospital for, the longer he would remain an inpatient, so he wanted to be up and about as soon as he could.
“The physio said Kai is doing absolutely incredible.
"He got home last Wednesday and was straight out to the shops with his nana!"
Before his diagnosis, Kai had been suffering from persistent pain in his leg following two minor injuries and underwent an X-Ray and MRI after developing a large lump on the side of his left leg.
He was referred to the Freeman Hospital for a biopsy where doctors told him he had a rare bone cancer tumour.
Kai embarked on a 10-week course of intensive chemotherapy and was told by doctors that the cancer had not spread beyond his leg but that he needed to have part of it amputated.
But despite his incredible progress following the surgery, Kai is dealing with a condition called phantom limb syndrome, which sees patients experience sensations, whether painful or otherwise, in a limb that does not exist.
However, Kai’s family hope that the condition will be improved by osseointegration surgery in Sweden to fit him with a specialised prosthetic leg.
Surgery involves inserting a metal implant into the bone of a residual limb, which then attaches directly to a prosthesis, eliminating socket-related issues.
A £60,000 fundraising drive set up by Steven has so far raised £6,427 for the treatment which would take place in 2022.
Steven said: "The response [to the fundraiser] has been absolutely incredible. We have 10% of what we need in the first month and we still have a year and a bit to go.”
Inspired by Kai’s bravery, Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles, even wrote to the Toon Army fan ahead of his surgery to say that the squad was behind him as he ‘tackles the biggest fight of his life.’
Now Kai hopes that sharing his story will help others going through a similar thing. On advice to others, he said: “Have a positive outlook and to try and think optimistically about things rather than on the negative side.
“Rely on the people around you for support and if you are struggling, speak to people around you.”
To donate visit: https://gofund.me/cfed2d2d