There are few things more challenging than adapting to life’s major curveballs. And few, if any, challenges are tougher than losing a physical limb and adapting, both mentally and physically.
As reported by the Washington Post, for Amanda Merrell, that shift came early. She was diagnosed with an exstremely early onset case of Ewing’s Sarcoma, underwent 14 rounds of chemotherapy by the age of 3, then eventually had her left leg amputated through the knee. She was fitted with a customized prosthetic, the first of at least 25 she’s used in her life; she gets a new prosthetic once or twice per year at a cost of $20,000 per limb.
Most importantly, Merrell’s parents promised the then 3-year-old that she would, “run just like her sisters.” She’s followed through, playing all the sports she dreamed of — soccer, basketball, field hockey and lacrosse. She’s excelled at many of them, and is now a standout member of the Huntingtown (Md.) junior varsity basketball team. Per her parents, she’s hit multiple game-winning shots in her young career.
“I had it my whole life. I don’t really hide it. I just embrace it,” Merrell told the Post. “It would be nice if they don’t stare. If they do, they’d be wondering what happened, then I just share my story with them. I don’t really mind them staring.
“There was one girl from the other team who told one of my teammates that I shouldn’t be playing and I should just sit on the bench. I scored the winning goal.”
If ever there was an apt metaphor for a young athlete’s career, that’s it for Merrell. And it’s not just those in her family, teams and classes who notice it. It’s opponents, too:
“I watched her game and never even noticed it. It didn’t slow her down. It didn’t bring any attention to her,” St. Mary’s Coach Chuck Miller said after losing to Huntingtown in a holiday tournament final last month. “It doesn’t get any better than that, in my opinion. To me, it takes guts to go out there and be out there. And that little girl who I’ve never met, to me, shows incredible fortitude.”