Sixteen years ago, I wrote a series of letters about the story of my daughter, Nicole, and our journey together in 2001.

These letters were meant to reflect on everything that she went through in those turbulent nine months. She had been diagnosed with bone cancer, endured round after round of chemotherapy, had her leg amputated, and was fit with a prosthesis. These letters are also to reflect on all that I was called to do as a parent of a sick child. A counselor had suggested to me that writing may be a productive way to grieve and to reflect. And for me, it was.

Until a few months ago, I had completely forgotten that I’d written these letters. I found them sitting under a pile of dust in the basement of my home in Michigan. Nicole and I read them together for the first time just before we embarked on our Forrest Stump journey. After four hours, and many emotions later, we decided it would be important to share them with you.

We hear so many stories today about people being diagnosed with cancer and about amputees coming home from war. The discussion about cancer or amputation has become all too familiar. It’s like hearing that your dog has fleas. When we see amputees in the media achieving incredible things, we may stop and think “wow, good for them.” But that is where the interest typically ends. No one cares to dig any deeper to reveal the story behind that person’s journey.

For many, it is a remote story they are not involved in, and thank goodness.  The reality of it is way more challenging than how it is often portrayed. Trust me. The emotional, financial, and physical challenges are daunting.

This is my story of my daughter, Nicole, beginning when she was 10 years old. It is intended to portray the disruption that cancer and amputation has inflicted on our lives.  

“It is my hope that we can raise awareness about the barriers that limit access to prosthetic technology by telling Nicole’s story.  My hope is that we can level the playing field for all amputees, so that they can have access to the appropriate technology and devices for their level of activity.”

Jan Harley

July, 2017