A Regina woman is finding peace in her new 'golden' prosthesis leg after struggling to come to terms with her disability.
Kerry Benjoe, a freelance writer, had her leg amputated in 2018 due to extreme pain which was caused by a broken foot that didn't heal properly.
"Once you get the amputation the residual limb is rather large, it's like the size of your normal leg." Benjoe said. "It was really depressing and I hated my prosthetic."
Benjoe said she contemplated wearing long pants and even getting foam covering to make her leg appear as if it wasn't amputated.
"I've always worn skirts and dresses and boots and things like that." Benjoe said. "I'm pretty girly in that sense and I had already lost so much with losing my leg and I wasn't willing to give up that part of me."
She said she had decided to come to terms with her lost limb and embrace it since it was going to be with her for the rest of her life.
Benjoe said while looking up stories of amputees she came across a model named Lauren Wasser, who lost both of her legs to toxic shock syndrome. Benjoe said that Wasser was still walking runways with her prosthetic legs, which were the colour gold.
"When I [saw] her gold leg it just popped in my head that my prosthetic didn't have to be ugly, I could make it my own." Benjoe said. "After seeing that I put it in my head that I was going to work towards that and I was going to get that golden leg."
Benjoe said before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she had gotten fitted for her final casting and her prosthetics doctor told her she could pick whatever fabric she wanted.
"I went fabric shopping and I found this really metallic gold fabric and it was bright." Benjoe said. "It kind of looks like C3PO and I wanted that."
She said when she brought the fabric to her doctor, they were excited to work with the material and create the leg Benjoe had dreamed of.
"She customized my prosthetic and now I have a golden leg." Benjoe said. "I'm really proud of it and it's a far cry from where I was when my leg was amputated."
"I was just so happy with it, like even now I still look at it and I smile." Benjoe said. "Some people may still think it's ugly but to me I think it's pretty and I admire it."
Hopes to inspire others
Benjoe said one of the reasons as to why she decided to embrace her prosthesis is because she wanted to inspire others who may be facing similar challenges.
"When I was going through the physiotherapy when I was first getting my leg and all of that, I was the only brown face." She said. "I was wondering 'why aren't there other Indigenous people here?'"
She said although she didn't lose her leg to diabetes, the disease is 'rampant' in Indigenous communities with many people losing their limbs as a result of the disease.
"I have family members who have had amputations and they're not independent, they're in their wheelchairs." Benjoe said. "And I think maybe depression and this whole 'I can't, my life is over' mentality has affected them."
She said she hopes she can show her family members and others that there is life after an amputation.
"I know what those dark times are like and it wasn't good because I lost my independence." Benjoe said. "It was such a horrible time which is why when I got my leg, despite how ugly it was, I was just so happy that I could stand again."
"The first time I stood on my prosthetic I felt like I was six-feet tall, like I was so happy and I want other people to see me and say 'okay well if she could do it, maybe I can'."