Two years following a rare and aggressive cancer diagnosis of spindle cell sarcoma, David Willard’s right arm was amputated in 2020. This –
Two years following a rare and aggressive cancer diagnosis of spindle cell sarcoma, David Willard’s right arm was amputated in 2020. This came about after attempting to heal with 2 surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy – after these options were worn out, their only option was amputation. Following the amputation, David asked his medical team about prosthetic options. They gave him the names of three local providers and after visiting each one of them, Bulow was what he chose due to the passionate and personal approach of Kelly Hefferen in the interview.
When asking David what he is most proud of accomplishing since becoming an amputee, he said “It has been gratifying to realize that my life, and the enjoyment of life, didn’t end with the amputation of my dominant arm. I am proud of the fact that I was able to adapt and modify most of my activities such that I can still be productive in and around my home. Some pleasurable activities, like playing the piano, are a great loss, but they are far outweighed by the activities I can still engage in which bring fulfillment and purpose to my life.”
One of the most defining moments in David’s life came after he learned his cancer treatment was not effective and that amputation was recommended by his team. Although he came to terms with this and trusted God in the decision to move forward with amputation, it was still such a life-changing moment. However, David leaned on God with his uncertain future and came to a new understanding of the scripture in Jeremiah 29:11 which says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
He desperately needed the promises of hope and a future, and this verse gave him the reminder that God has a plan for his life and that his plan promises prosperity and protection from harm. While he is still plumbing the depth of those words and promises, he is learning God’s promises are sometimes veiled in their full meaning, but HE is faithful to deliver.
In David’s free time, he enjoys working in his 2-acre yard and his garden. At first, he was fearful he would need to move but discovered he is able to continue those things which has been a pleasure. He also enjoys ancestry research and documentation as well as cooking, and reading, and working crossword puzzles. He and his wife also enjoy traveling and sightseeing as well. A perfect day for David includes waking up early, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading the Bible and sending a message to his grandchild whom he adores. He also makes sure to include daily exercises recommended by his therapists.
When asked how his friends would describe him, David said, “I think those who know me would describe me as friendly, caring and generous. I think others would describe my outlook on life as optimistic and hopeful. I take pride in my self-sufficiency and won’t ask for assistance if there is any way I can accomplish the task at hand by myself. I am much better at giving aid/assistance than receiving it. I’m loyal and slow to criticize others. I try to treat others as I’d like to be treated – this being one of the earliest and most frequent admonitions from my childhood – The Golden Rule, as taught by my mother.”
Some advice from David to new amputees would be:
- Commit yourself to the regimen of PT or OT in preparation for a prosthesis.
- Find joy in the fact that you have the gift of life.
- Determine that you can find purpose in life, in spite of your disability.
- Be open to the challenge of life in your “new normal” status.
- Show appreciation to your medical team as well as your prosthetics team.
- Be appreciative of family members and caregivers. They are struggling too.
- Be an encourager as you come in contact with other amputees.
- Preoccupy yourself with productive outlets, (i.e., hobbies, new skills, interests).
- Develop a “can do” mentality. Prove to yourself you can do this!
- If you have a device, wear it! You must train your mind to recognize opportunities for utilization!
- Don’t be shy about demonstrating your device. People are usually timid and reticent about how “you” might react. Nip it in the bud and clear the air regarding any discomfort you or others may feel. They are probably curious and interested in knowing more about how it works.
- Connect with other amputees if possible, for encouragement and tips/suggestions.