Gabi’s family first realised something there might be something wrong with her right leg after she fell over onto her knee whilst ice skating. As her knee hadn’t healed two weeks after the fall, her mum Debbie took her to hospital for an MRI scan.
‘We went to the doctor, and he told us the news. He said ‘Your daughter has what we think could be cancer, a type of cancer called osteosarcoma.’ We were shocked. He had to repeat what he said because I didn’t believe him, I didn’t think my ears heard him correctly.’
‘She asked – ‘Why did this happen to me?’ and we said, ‘you know sometimes bad things happen to good people. We don’t know why but we just have to do our best to get through it.’ And that’s what we did.’
As well as undergoing grueling chemotherapy, Gabi also had rare rotationplasty surgery – as this option gave her the best chance of mobility. This involved removing her cancerous knee, rotating her lower leg and foot by 180 degrees and attaching it to her upper thigh – meaning her ankle now acts as her knee joint. She was nervous at first – but Gabi has been thrilled with the results of the pioneering surgery.
‘The surgery has allowed me to do so much more than I expected and I would never go back and change it.’
Recovery was a long and painful process for Gabi, and it wasn’t until a year after the surgery that she was able to take her first steps.
‘The first goal was to get walking and just get out of the hospital bed, but what motivated me to walk was dancing again.’
‘It took several PT sessions just getting the motion back in my ankle and taking my first steps without any assistance – no walker or crutches. And then a year after that I was dancing again on stage.’
Now that she’s back dancing again competitively, Gabi’s mum couldn’t be more pleased to see the incredible progress that her daughter has made.
‘We all are extremely proud of Gabi for everything she achieves because she’s done so much more than anyone has ever expected.’
And it doesn’t stop there – Gabi is currently volunteering with children’s cancer charity The Truth 365, and dreams of helping others when she is older.
‘When I’m older I would like to be a paediatric oncologist or a nurse, or one of the scientists that finds a cure for cancer.’
‘If I could beat cancer and have a prosthetic leg and learn to do everything again, then I can do anything.’