A mom who had her leg amputated to fight off cancer just months after giving birth was inspired to get back on her feet by watching her twins take their first steps.
Dionne Brown, 26, was diagnosed with cancer in her left knee bone shortly after the birth of her twins Emmett and Cohen.
The tumor was only spotted after her knee gave way while she was carrying Cohen down the stairs, and doctors looked into the reason while they were checking him over.
The tot was fine, but medics discovered a tumor in his mom's leg, and after five months of treatment she made the tough decision to have her limb amputated.
The twins took their first steps four months later - inspiring mom-of-four Brown to get back on her feet, using a prosthetic.
And she said her adorable kids, Emmett and Cohen, now 18 months, Teigan, 6, and Halie, 4, cheered her on from the sofa.
"I wasn't easy seeing the twins able to walk and not myself," Brown said. "I have four kids and I wasn't able to do things that I would have otherwise been able to do with them like taking them to the park or cooking for them. I spent a very long time in hospital and was only home a few days a month so I had to leave the children in the care of friends. I was missing everyone especially my twins who were growing up very fast."
Brown, from South Molton in North Devon, first noticed pain in her leg in Nov. 2016 while walking her two oldest children to school.
"It just started out of the blue. I could feel the pain which made it very difficult to walk," she said. "The pain kept getting worse throughout the weeks that followed. It seemed to happen every time that I walked somewhere."
Worried, Brown went to her doctor and was told that it was down to softened tissue in her knee joints as she was pregnant at the time.
"My GP tried to reassure me that it was nothing to worry about and it was just a symptom of pregnancy," she said. "But despite being prescribed Tramadol I could still feel the pain. I felt like a bone was coming out of place and that my knee was giving way."
The pain got worse and didn't ease up after she gave birth to the twins in April 2017.
"Immediately after I returned home, the pain started again but this time it was significantly much worse," she said. "I was in so much pain that I was vomiting several times a day. But it then got to a point where I couldn't bear to see my children look at me so I went to my mother's for a few days and left my kids with my partner."
She was initially misdiagnosed with osteoarthritis, but three months later she accidentally dropped her son when her knee gave way.
"I was panicking as I thought that he must have been severely injured so I rushed him to North Devon District Hospital," she said. "We arrived and it turned out that he was fine but I explained to the doctors that it was my knee which gave in and caused me to drop Cohen."
After 12 more appointments, an X-ray revealed a 4-centimeter tumor in her knee, in August last year.
"I actually couldn't process it and take in the news straight away because I was so shocked," she said. "But when I did realize, I knew that my whole life was about to change completely. It was absolutely devastating."
Brown had chemotherapy between Sept. 2017 and Jan. 2018, but it didn't work, and doctors offered her the option of amputation.
"I could either have an amputation and have a prosthetic leg installed or continue to have rigorous chemotherapy treatment and hoped that my leg would get better over time," she said. "However, the doctors told me that I was more likely to walk again if I had a leg amputation."
"It was an extremely life-changing decision as it would determine whether I would walk again," she said.
While she was in the hospital she missed her twins' first steps in April this year, but a month later began to get to grips with her prosthetic limb, taking her first solo steps in August.
"It started off with tiny baby steps and over time I slowly developed the confidence to walk longer distances," she said. "I developed my confidence slowly to walk longer distances every time. It was hard on the kids though as I had to rely on them to help with the housework and day to day tasks."
"I felt guilty that I couldn't look after them properly," she said. "The twins took their first steps in April whilst they were with my mum which was amazing to hear. They then visited me in hospital and I noticed both were walking proudly and with confidence - it was truly amazing to see. I did feel slightly annoyed that I missed a vital part of their development but it was nice to see that they were finally walking."
"I remember the moment when I could walk independently with the metal leg, I felt great," she said. "It was kind of weird though because it wasn't my own leg. My kids were praising me for it and it felt like they were my parents because they were celebrating that I could walk. I am glad that I had an amputation because I may not have walked again if I had still had my leg."