After amputation or limb-sparing surgery

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Limb-sparing surgery or amputation as part of your cancer treatment can be tough. Learn ways to help you cope with losing a limb and adjusting to the change.

Key points

  • Amputation or limb-sparing surgery affects the way you move, do things and how you look.
  • You will feel a range of emotions from anger and sadness to relief that your cancer has been removed; all of these emotions are normal.
  • Your health-care team can help you prepare for the surgery including saying goodbye to your limb and preparing you for what to expect after the surgery.
Boy sitting on examination table after limb surgery

Amputation or limb-sparing surgery may be a part of your cancer treatment. Going through surgery on your arm or leg can be a tough part of cancer treatment because it may affect the way you move or do things.

Naturally, this surgery also affects how you look. Part of dealing with this is to allow yourself to acknowledge the loss and how you feel about it. You may feel sad or angry at times. You may also feel relief to know that the cancer has been removed. You have the right to express your feelings in the way that feels best for you.

Here are some suggested ways to say goodbye to your limb when you are preparing for an amputation or limb-sparing surgery.

  • Make a mould or imprint of your limb using a craft kit.
  • Make a print using ink on paper and decorate it.
  • Write a goodbye letter to your limb.
  • Have a goodbye party with friends and family.

It may take some time to come to terms with losing a limb. You’re used to what your body looked like before and it may take time to adjust to the change. Many people find it helps to talk to someone such as a member of your health-care team or another young person who is living well with an amputation. You might want to meet with a physiotherapist to review what your life will be like after an amputation. A member of your health-care team can help you arrange this.

Spend time with people who are supportive and who like you for who you are, not what you look like. Supportive people can help you adjust to the change, regain your confidence and focus on your abilities. The treatment section has other information about adjusting to an amputation.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019