All the while another South Kilkenny man has been quietly preparing for one of his life ambitions: representing Ireland at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games later this month.
Though residing in Unionville, Pennsylvania since 2004, James Dwyer’s home is very much in Mooncoin, where his father and four sisters still live.
What is remarkable about James is that he is an able-bodied amputee. In April 1987, at the age of just 16, he was diagnosed with cancer of the bone and that August had his knee, fibula and part of the tibia removed from his right leg and was advised not to ride horses again – with showjumping having been a passion since the age of seven.
Then in 1990 came another huge setback. James was diagnosed with lung cancer and part of his lung was removed at this time. As the years went by his leg suffered from numerous painful infections.
“The final straw came in November 1997 when I felt life must be better than this,” he recalls. “The pain had become too much to bear. I met my consultant and we agreed it was time to amputate the right leg. The operation was December 16th 1997. It is hard to believe, but this was the best day of my life.”
The amputation was above the knee and “I was walking in six weeks with my new leg and like all things mechanical it needed adjustments to suit my renewed ambitions”, he says.
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