Scotland

Will I still be able to paint my toes?

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Media captionTeenager tells of her growing leg collection

Iona is 13 and already has a collection of prosthetic legs.

She was diagnosed with cancer in her right leg at the age of five, just a year after losing her mother to the same illness.

Over the past seven years, she has been fitted with 17 different leg "sockets" and needs a new one every six months as she grows.

Iona, from Glasgow, tells a BBC Alba documentary: "My first one was quite big because after my operation my leg was quite swollen.

Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption Iona loves activities such as dancing

"I remember the first question I ever asked the person that deals with my leg was 'will I be able to paint my toes still?'"

Trying to maintain normality is still very important to the teenager.

As she considers her latest prosthetic limb at the WestMARC rehabilitation centre, she says: "I asked to keep the toes out of the cover so in the summer I can wear flip-flops."

Iona says the foot of the prosthetic limb has toes but is covered by a protective sock.

Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption The teenager said she liked to see the toes on her prosthetic leg

"I like to see my toes," she says. "I prefer that, because everyone has toes."

Her father Steven Hay tells the programme that Iona has adapted to losing her leg but the news of her cancer came at a traumatic time for the family.

He had lost his wife, Iona's mother, to the disease a year before his daughter was diagnosed.

Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption Iona has specially-adapted prosthetics for her sports

Mr Hay says: "My wife had cancer just before this and then you have another one in the family so soon, it clearly makes you wonder what is going on.

"I think I did find it difficult to tell the other children because their previous experience of what cancer does is that it kills.

"It was difficult and we presented it in the context of a completely different type of cancer and there is an obvious treatment for this."

He says that initially it was thought that Iona's tumour could be reduced through chemotherapy and removed.

"Unfortunately it did not work out quite that way," he says.

"The cancer was growing too fast so they decided they would have to amputate below the knee."

Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption Iona plays hockey and other sports

Iona says: "They were going to take the tumour out and replace it with a bit of metal but they thought I'd drag my leg and not be able to do things any more so they thought of an amputation.

"I did not really get much choice but I'm really happy that they went for that.

"They gave me an amputation the week before I turned six."

Her father says: "Iona has adjusted pretty well.

"She's a bubbly person, she didn't have any particular worries about what was happening. She just loves dancing and it's helped her be creative and express herself.

"She's been able to get back to normal life."

Iona has several legs for the different activities and sports she plays such as hockey, gymnastics and dancing.

Her twin sister Niamh says Iona does everything everyone else does.

"I just forget that she's got a prosthetic," she says.

At WestMARC, the main rehabilitation centre for the West of Scotland, prosthetist Alison Morton says: "There are certain ages that are milestones in their development and how they approach their limb and how they feel about their limb.

"One of those is going to school, another is when they reach that high school/puberty age, where looks are important, how people perceive them are important."

But Iona says: "I don't think I'm getting self-conscious about my leg. That is who I am.

"I think I can just accept that and let other people just accept that. They can say what they want but this is me."

She adds: "I guess having a prosthetic leg makes me proud to be someone different, someone unique, someone that isn't just any ordinary person, someone special.

"It also makes me more determined."

Ceum air Cheum/ Step by Step will be broadcast on BBC Alba at 21:00 on Thursday 6 April.

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