STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A 12-year-old cancer survivor is telling her story after undergoing a rare procedure that used her foot and ankle to replace her knee.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s Delaney Unger’s new reality. She’s only the second person to undergo a full Van Ness procedure at Stony Brook University Hospital. The junior dancer was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of cancer in her knee, when she was 11.
“You’re scared for her,” Delaney’s mom, Melissa, said. “You’re trying to keep her calm and not make a big deal about it but inside it’s tearing you apart.”
Delaney first went through chemotherapy, but when it was time to amputate her knee her doctors had a very unique idea.
“We got rid of the cancer completely, but then we took her ankle which had no cancer in it at all and used that to form a new knee,” Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Dr. Fazel Khan said.
The procedure offered a chance for Delaney to do what she loves most again.
“I was like alright, you can take my leg I don’t care I just want to dance again,” Delaney said. “That’s all I wanna do again.”
With a lot of will and determination, she did just that. She learned to walk, run, and finally dance once more. Even if it comes with a few stares, Delaney smiles right through it knowing she can keep doing what makes her happy.
“People stare at me now but I’m kinda used to it now so I don’t care,” she said, happy that she’s now celebrating one year cancer-free. Her dream is now to become a doctor so that others can keep living out their dreams too.