Beating the odds: Local runner inspires community
It's no secret that middle school can be a challenging time for young women. Life is constantly changing, and you're truly trying to figure out who you are. But one Knox County Junior High School student has already beat the odds at a young age, and is continuing to inspire those around her.
Elise Robinson always knew she wanted to be an athlete. After all, it runs in the family.
"In my family, we're all really athletic, and I played softball and basketball and was a really good runner before all of this happened," said Robinson.
But when she was only 8 years old, things forever changed for Elise.
"Her knee was hurting, and it kept hurting off and on. We just attributed it to kids being kids," said Elise's mother, Jennifer Robinson.
An X-ray from an orthopedic surgeon revealed a diagnosis of osteosarcoma -- bone cancer.
"She had 10 weeks if chemotherapy, and the chemotherapy was punishing," Jennifer Robinson said.
The Robinsons sought treatment at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. At only 8 years old, Elise had to make a huge decision. Osteosarcoma requires surgery, and there are three options. She chose rotationplasty, the option that's chosen the least. It's a grueling recovery process, and the result of the surgery looks strange.
"You're left with a shorter leg and a backwards foot," explained Jennifer Robinson. "And the foot is turned around, so you can use it as a knee. So her prosthetic fits into her foot, and her ankle is now her knee. So it leaves you with a natural joint."
Why would Elise choose the most difficult surgery? Because rotationplasty leaves you with the ability to move more than the other two surgeries.
"She chose that surgery because she wanted to be an athlete," Jennifer Robinson said.
There were plenty of milestones; like her first time on the stairs with a prosthetic.
"For the first week or two, I got a couple of stares. I know it's not mean stares, they're just wondering what happened," said Elise. "It's something different."
Elise had to learn how to walk again. Then, she had to learn how to run again.
"It's like having a newborn," said Elise's mother. "But she was determined."
The determination has paid off. Four years later, Elise is thriving. She has a specialized prosthetic leg with a blade to help her run. She also plays softball, and is a normal teenage girl with an incredible attitude.
"I feel like it's made me see the world in a different way," Elise told KPRC 2. "I've been through so much, I can make it through a cross-country meet. It could be worse; we know people who are going through worse."
"When I come out to races like this or I watch her at a softball game, I tear up quite often," said Jennifer. "I'm so grateful not only that she's able to do what she wants to do, but because she's here. She's alive."
The Robinsons constantly hear how Elise's story has inspired someone.
Elise's advice for others facing adversity is simple.
"You can do more than you think you can," said Elise. "And if you work really hard at something, it will come to you."
Elise and her mother have become advocates for osteosarcoma and rotationplasty, often Skyping and advising children and their families who are about to embark on such a tough journey.
For more on Elise's journey, go here.
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