Mother marks recovery from amputation and mastectomy by training for triathlon

Mother Marks Recovery From Amputation And Mastectomy By Training For Triathlon Mother Marks Recovery From Amputation And Mastectomy By Training For Triathlon
Rosie Tennyson said she wanted to prove nothing is impossible. Photo: PA
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By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A mother-of-five from Co Armagh who had her leg amputated and underwent a double mastectomy is celebrating her remarkable recovery by training for a triathlon.

Rosie Tennyson (41), from Forkhill, said she is determined to prove nothing is impossible, as she undertakes the gruelling regime to complete the fitness challenge.

Her health issues started in her early 30s when she suffered an arterial venous malformation (AVM) in her toe  – an abnormal connection between arteries and veins.

She said: “My toe had started to show signs of what they thought was a fungal infection. It turned into an ulcer and would not heal.

“It overtook my whole toe. Eventually the consultant decided to amputate the toe. Looking back that was the worst thing, because it just led the AVM to grow into the other toe.


“After it was amputated the foot still wouldn’t heal. I was in so much pain all the time.”

Rosie Tennyson at Camlough Lake, putting on her prosthetic blade. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

While Ms Tennyson was dealing with the pain in her foot, her young son Anton was taken to London for heart surgery.

She said: “I couldn’t be with Anton because I was at home in a wheelchair, it was really affecting my mental health and I was desperate to get my independence back.”

Eventually the AVM was diagnosed and the leg was amputated in 2016.

She said: “Even though I had been desperate to get the leg off because I had been in so much pain, when they told me that was what was happening I was freaking out.

“I thought, I am never going to walk again, I’ll never be able to drive, I’ll never be able to do anything again.”

After the amputation, Ms Tennyson received a prosthetic leg and began to learn to walk again.

But in 2018 her life was turned upside down once more. While pregnant, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Rosie Tennyson, training along Camlough Lake (Liam McBurney/PA)

She said: “My mum had passed away with breast cancer. A lot of her sisters were going for testing and they had this gene BRCA2.


“I knew there was a heightened risk. My sister went and got tested. She was negative. She said to me that I had to go.

“I said I’m only after losing my leg and Anton has come through heart surgery, this is not going to happen to me. I can’t be that unlucky.

“I remember after they did the biopsy, this breast care nurse took me into a room and the doctor said, ‘I’m sorry, but it’s cancer’.

“I just froze. I said ‘I can’t have cancer, I have to look after my children’. I was pregnant at the time.

“I asked ‘am I going to die?’ They said no, they would get me through this, but I thought my body was trying to kill me.”

Ms Tennyson then suffered a miscarriage.


She said: “I remember thinking, why is all this happening to me? I was so scared all the time.

“When you are young you think all these things only happen to someone else.”

She went through chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

She said: “When I was doing the chemo I lost my hair, I was very sick. I put on so much weight that I was unrecognisable.


“I had the chemo on a Tuesday and by the Friday I had to stay in bed for three days.

“I remember thinking, if I can get through this I want to embrace things, I want to be positive and grab every opportunity.

“I decided that good things are going to come, there may be curveballs, but that was my attitude.

“I did think at times why me? But then I started to think why not me? So many people go through worse things.”

Ms Tennyson said she gets encouragement from her children Chloe (26), Ciara (17), Ellie Rose (13), Finn (11) and Anton (7).

She said: “Anton gets me up in the morning and hands me my leg.

“In those moments when I feel down I just look at my kids. I’m so lucky to have them.

“A couple of years ago I started feeling that my body was coming back. I said I really want to run. I couldn’t even walk properly yet but I decided I wanted to run and wanted a blade leg.

“I always wanted to do a triathlon. They do one every year in Camlough, that’s what I’m training for.

“I want to show it is possible for me to do it. Nothing is impossible. There are amputees who are climbing mountains and running ultra marathons. It is just a matter of dedication.”


She is currently training on the track and in the pool and said she wants to begin bike training in 2023.

She said: “I try to do some training every day. It all helps me mentally, the thought of doing it, the training, it makes me feel amazing.

“I might have bad days but then I just remind myself what I’ve been able to do on the good days.”

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