My name is Liam and I’m 23 years old. At the age of seven, I was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in my right leg. I had chemotherapy for almost 12 months, but the treatment was unsuccessful which led to having my right foot amputated. From then on I was unable to accept myself as an amputee, feeling like a freak and the black sheep in every situation. At the age of 14 I found drugs and alcohol as a way to cope and fit in with everyone else. My addictive personality, along with a deep sense of grief and self-hate, saw my life spiralling toward self-destruction. By the time I was 19 years of age, I sought help to get clean through a rehabilitation program, as I knew if my lifestyle continued in the same pattern, I was going to be dead or in jail in no time. I had a couple of slip ups along the way and at 21 ended up back in detox, just totally unable to see a way out.

I did what was suggested and moved from Melbourne to Sydney, to try and start my life over again through another rehabilitation program. Through hard work and the support of others, I was able to find self-acceptance around being an amputee and knew I needed to start participating in life. I've been clean for 20 months and my life looks nothing like the disaster it was then. During my rehabilitation program, I had major pain in my prosthetic and as I was living in a new state, I didn’t know where to seek advice. I wishfully applied for a grant from START foundation in mid 2016. The dream became a reality when my application was successful and I received funding to have the prosthetic I needed to engage in life, without anything holding me back.

Today when I wake up I’m not in pain, I can train and push my body further than I ever have before and hopefully get the results required to be an athlete in some capacity one day. Through the belief of the team at START I set a goal to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, in what sport, I don't know, as I'm yet to work that out. Regardless of what sport I pursue, the opportunity to fully embrace myself as an amputee and not limit my abilities as a person has been the biggest reward from the grant. The appreciation and gratitude I have for START for literally giving me a 'start' is beyond words. It has been an absolute game changer for my life, so thank you!"

You can follow Liam on his website.

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