Real Girl Kate Fos­ter: “Los­ing My Leg Won’t Stop Me!”

“Los­ing won’t

J-14 - - Front Page -

Go­ing vi­ral hap­pens so of­ten it feels like any­one can do it, right? Wear­ing a goofy mask, walk­ing around in your white Vans or even sim­ply hav­ing your pic­ture taken can shoot you straight to the top of the trend­ing list on Twit­ter. But when a video of 17-year-old Rock­ford, Illi­nois na­tive Kate Fos­ter stick­ing her beam rou­tine with a pros­thetic leg joined the ranks of vi­ral sen­sa­tions, it was clear she was no flash-in-the-pan in­ter­net star. “That rou­tine was one of my proud­est achieve­ments,” Kate tells J-14 of the video that now has nearly five mil­lion views. “It took me a year and a half to stick it.”

Kate’s gym­nas­tics jour­ney started when she was just 7 years old and her par­ents signed her up for a tum­bling class. Be­fore long, she was spend­ing 25 hours a week at the Gym­nas­tics Academy of Rock­ford. “The gym has al­ways been my sec­ond home,” Kate shares. “My coach and team­mates

are my sec­ond fam­ily.”

But her life in the gym came to a sud­den halt when Kate, then 11, felt sick. “I was ex­hausted all the time, and get­ting bruises all over,” she re­calls. “Then, I started get­ting staph in­fec­tions. That’s when I started go­ing to the doc­tor to fig­ure out what was wrong.” Af­ter a se­ries of blood tests, the doc­tors broke the heart-wrench­ing news Kate never saw com­ing: She had leukemia. She im­me­di­ately be­gan the fight of her life with in­tense chemo­ther­apy treat­ments, two bone mar­row trans­plants and months of work­ing to­wards be­com­ing can­cer-free. Dur­ing that time, Kate was hit with yet an­other dev­as­tat­ing blow. A se­ri­ous in­fec­tion had de­vel­oped in her left leg — and her leg needed to be am­pu­tated. “I was freak­ing out,” Kate tells us. “I kept telling them no. I knew I needed my leg for gym­nas­tics and I couldn’t imag­ine my life with­out it.” It was only when a doc­tor came in to com­fort Kate that she be­gan to ac­cept the harsh re­al­ity. “It was ei­ther my leg or my life,” she re­calls. “If I kept my leg, I’d lose my life.”

“I was de­ter­mined to com­pete again”

Never one to back down from a chal­lenge, Kate didn’t think for a sec­ond that she’d stop gym­nas­tics, even if it meant train­ing with one leg. That’s why five months af­ter re­cov­er­ing from her nearly three­year bat­tle with can­cer, she was back in the gym (with crutches) do­ing what she loved. “Even be­fore they am­pu­tated my leg,

I was think­ing about how I could build up my strength to get back in the gym,” she ex­plains to J-14. “I needed to get back.”

She also counted on the strength of the peo­ple around her to help get her back on the mats. “My coach said to me, ‘I’ve never taught a one-legged gym­nast be­fore, but I’m will­ing if you are,’” she re­mem­bers. “That meant the world to me.”

“I don’t want the pity”

With that mo­ti­va­tion, Kate per­se­vered, and a few months later, she was fit­ted with a pros­thetic leg that came with a spe­cial at­tach­ment just for gym­nas­tics. “I was so ex­cited to be able to walk nor­mally and do gym­nas­tics again,” she smiles.

It wasn’t long af­ter that she was com­pet­ing at a na­tional level, with the same stan­dards as all of the other gym­nasts. “I would never want the pity,” she tells us with con­fi­dence. “I want to do my very best and suc­ceed just like every­one else!” And in the fu­ture, she hopes to use her ex­pe­ri­ence to help others go­ing through sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions. “I want to be a doc­tor,” she shares with J-14. “This way I can change lives the same way my doc­tors changed mine!” How in­spir­ing! Justin Bieber has granted more wishes to kids with life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions than any other celebrity! “Make-A-Wish has been heav­ily on my heart since I was about 13,” he smiles. When Harry Styles cut his long hair, he do­nated it to The Lit­tle Princess Trust. That’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion that makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair due to can­cer treat­ments. “You’re very, very brave,” Harry said to one fan bat­tling can­cer.

This is Kate’s spe­cial gym­nas­tics at­tach­ment. When she’s not at the gym, she at­taches a pros­thetic that has a knee and foot. ▶ Kate’s had a pas­sion for gym­nas­tics for as long as she can re­mem­ber. “My favorite part is be­ing chal­lenged,” she ex­plains.

“I like know­ing some­thing is dif­fi­cult and hav­ing to work re­ally hard to­wards achiev­ing it.” ▲ Through her most try­ing times, Kate kept her spirit high! “I stayed pos­i­tive,” she shares. “I have a great fam­ily and friends who helped me make the best of the sit­u­a­tion.” ▼ Kate’s team has her back. They helped her while she was in the hospi­tal, and they’re her favorite peo­ple to hang out with! “Our gym gets to­gether to watch The Olympics,” she says. “I re­ally like Si­mone Biles — she’s just amaz­ing!”

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