Woman's hand amputated to beat rare cancer

Woman's hand amputated to beat rare cancer
Amy Lowry pictured after her operation. Clear cell sarcoma of soft tissue is a rare type of cancer primarily affecting young adults between 20 to 40 years old. Picture: Sarah Slater

A young married woman did the ultimate to save her life - she had her hand amputated during the strict restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Amy Lowry, originally from Dublin but who now lives in Athy, Co Kildare underwent a huge operation in March of this year to have her right hand amputated in order to save her life due to an aggressive and extremely rare form of cancer called clear cell sarcoma.

This has had devastating consequences for both Amy and her family.

Clear cell sarcoma of soft tissue is a rare type of cancer primarily affecting young adults between 20 to 40 years old.

Sarcomas are cancers that arise within connective tissues, such as bone, muscle, fat, and tendons. 

Clear cell sarcoma tumours tend to grow attached to tendons in the limbs, especially in the feet and hands and are slightly more common in women.

A Tough Road

Life long friend Claire Cullen, explained how 35-year-old Amy went through. “It was an extremely hard time, she had to go through it all by herself as no visitors were allowed into the hospital, not even her husband Gavin, a decorator and then once she was home with lockdown it was a tough few months.

“She had the operation on March 18 and got out after two days after a scan to check it had all gone. She is still on full medication and has had to learn how to do everything with her left hand, it’s been a tough road but she wants to help others who are also in a similar situation by raising awareness about it.

“But Amy is such an inspiration and has been incredible throughout all of this. Her strength and positivity is like nothing I’ve ever known. Amy lost both of her parents in recent years, her Mam lost her battle to ovarian cancer seven years ago and now Amy is fighting her own battle.” 

Amy, who works as a maintenance co-ordinator with Crystal Air Ltd, first noticed small lumps on her hand in November 2018, but presumed they would eventually go away themselves as she believed they were caused by texting with her phone.

Amy's hand before the operation. Picture: Sarah Slater
Amy's hand before the operation. Picture: Sarah Slater

When the biopsy and MRI scan results returned in February they showed that the lumps were a rare form of cancer.

The disease was spreading from her hand and into her lungs so she would need to have it amputated. In early March medics told her she would have to have her hand amputated.

Amy did not want to tell my family and friends because she was so embarrassed and could not believe it was actually happening. 

After the operation she initially found it difficult to accept losing her hand.

Everyday Tasks

But Claire, decided that she wanted to more than offer emotional support to her dear friend, so she has gone about raising the thousands of euro Amy needs to have an artificial bionic hand. 

The everyday tasks of washing and dressing herself and even opening doors prove tough going.

She explained: “The go fund me page was set up to help us raise much needed funds to get Amy a new artificial bionic hand. This new 'be bionic' hand is a fully functional prosthetic and it will allow her to return to a more active lifestyle.

“It will help Amy in her day to day life with such things as getting dressed, preparing meals, eating and being able to drive to work. The things we take for granted like tying shoelaces, cutting food, folding clothes, and drying her hair.

Being able to do these things for herself again will empower her by giving her back some independence and a sense of normality. The myoelectric prosthetic hand has 14 different grip patterns and hand positions. Hands are an intimate part of the body. Getting the bionic hand would allow Amy to move forward into the future as a confident young amputee.

“The support she has received so far has been incredible. We are completely blown away by people’s kindness. A huge thank you to her job Crystal Air Ltd, they have been amazing to Amy and I am so happy she has had their support throughout all of this”.

Just three months after the operation, Amy is now up on her feet and determined to gain independence to lead a normal life.

Claire is aiming to raise €75,000 to help secure her friend's new hand and to date €42,000 has been raised.

Donations can be made to gofundme.com/Amy's Army

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