My Ankle Is My Knee

My Ankle Is My Knee


JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I was set on removing the tumour, so I guess, that’s why I couldn’t
keep my knee. COMM: 20-year-old Jillian was diagnosed with bone cancer a year ago. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I had that feeling of what if, but I was like, it can’t be. I mean,
I’m 19 years old, I’m playing college volleyball, like, how could that have happened? JANNA WILLIAMS: Well, it’s every parent’s worst nightmare when you hear your child has
cancer. About September of last year, of 2016, she started experiencing problems in her knee.
She was playing volleyball at college and she was at a tournament, and so we all just assumed it was just tendonitis, just over usage. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I got an appointment with a orthopaedic surgeon and they did an MRI
and, he thought it was torn meniscus, and it came back that I had a fractured femur
and a bone cyst, that he never felt that that diagnosis was right. So every two weeks, he
had me coming back and I would have X-rays to see if he could see the bone cyst on the
X-ray. He ended up asking me to go have another MRI. And that’s when he called us and said
we needed to go back to the oncologist, because the bone cyst had grown two and a half centimetres
in those two months. And so they did an open biopsy and that is when it came back positive
for Ewing sarcoma. JANNA WILLIAMS: Well, we’ve had it twice, because Jill’s dad had cancer in 2014, and
I can remember his words exactly. It’s just like you have an out-of-body experience when
someone tells you one of your loved ones has cancer.
TREY WILLIAMS: For me, it was really hard. It still is. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I told my parents, I was like, I told my dad, especially. I was like,
‘You got to stop making sad dog face and start like smiling. I’m gonna need y’all’s
help to fight. I can’t do this alone.” I know, I said, “I don’t want any crying.”
JANNA WILLIAMS: She gets mad at her daddy sometimes, because he cries. But then he also,
he will just look at her and she tells him, “I’m not an alien. I’m still Jillian.
Why are you looking me like that?” You know, I know why he is looking at her like that,
because it’s just, you want to savour every moment you have with her. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: Wait, are we all doing at one time?
TREY WILLIAMS: The time we have. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: Don’t look at the camera. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: They could’ve just had the tumour taken out by salvaging the limb,
but from research I had done, the people I met, there was a higher relapse rate and that’s
not what I wanted. So, I opted just to have the tumour removed and I wanted the best way
of life that I could get with doing that, so I chose rotationplasty. JANNA WILLIAMS: She’s always had nicknames, being Jumpy and Sparky and, since she was
a small child, and the other options weren’t going to give her that even chance to do it. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: Right here is where my doctors put me back together. My tumour was in my
distal femur and so they removed 36 centimetres of the middle portion of my leg, rotated my
bottom half 180 degrees and re-attached my tibia to my femur. So my prosthetics, it slides
on my foot and the strap comes over my heel and I just move my foot back and forth, like
if it were bending and straightening, like a knee. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: My foot is still very ticklish and I think my grandma thinks it’s like
fun to come tickle it. I’m like no, no, no… it’s not that fun. COMM: Growing up, Jillian was always an enthusiastic volleyball player and even competed in beauty
pageants. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I competed for Miss Texas Teen, when I was back in high school and I
loved it. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I have a lot of end goals. I guess my biggest one that I’m reaching
for right now is to play Paralympic volleyball. The thing is, I want to compete again for
Miss Texas , so, got to get my body back in shape to where it needs to be for that. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: Don’t get my face, it might be purple. LADY: That’s a good thing. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: It’s comfortable for you to sit like with your leg up. I don’t know
if it’s like, normally like girls would sit with both knees up, but I don’t have
the knee so I just, the foot goes in the air. Yeah, hold it sometimes and, it’s like I
talk with my hands a lot and it talks with me, like it moves when I’m trying to talk
to someone. So, I’ve had to make sure it stays down when I do talk to people, so I
don’t make them nervous. KIMBERLY ROMERO: She is a firecracker. She is out there. We work a lot on balance. It’s
important to me that she understands her body, the way it is now and she, I want her not
to be afraid to fall. I want her to be able to be save herself and just be confident in
all her movements, especially going back to being an athlete. So, that’s important.
Life is different for her now, but she wants to make a difference being different. COMM: So, the transition from an athletic Texan beauty queen to cancer patient and amputee
was a big adjustment for her. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I guess, it’s kind of been eye opening, because I’ve always had
long pretty hair, I have always been the tall pretty girl. It’s difficult being bald and
one-legged, I say that all the time, but a lot of people tend to, you know, shy away because
they are scared, “Why does she look like that or why is she bald? Is she crazy?”
KAITLYN CARAWAN RORER: I mean, your hair is going to grow back, your leg won’t but,
I mean… JILLIAN WILLIAMS: You never know, it’s modern
day science. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: I have embraced it full-heartedly, but I know people, like other people see it
as a freakish thing and are kind of like taken aback by it. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: When I chose rotationplasty in the very beginning, I wanted it to be an
option or a way of teaching people about bone cancer, Ewing sarcoma specifically and about
amputation. My motto in life is, “I want to make a difference by being different”,
and I feel like that’s, that’s what I’m doing with rotationplasty, with cancer, with
anything I do in life. KIMBERLY ROMERO: You don’t tell me which way to go.

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