When thinking of models, it might be easy to picture the standard long-legged, curvaceous women that we are used to seeing. So what about someone with an incredible story that has gone on to inspire a whole host of people over the years? It’s only when we meet Tessa Desiderio Snyder that we learn not everyone comes from the same walk of life. Sometimes, it’s not about the destination, but the journey that got us there instead. This is Tessa’s story about how she lost her leg and still managed to become a model.
The woman behind it all
Tessa Desiderio Snyder is a 29-year-old model and social media star living in Philadelphia. However, it’s not her career that has got people talking over the years.
No, Tessa has been able to inspire a whole generation of people thanks to her incredible journey and promotion of body positivity that has taken her to the top. It seems as though we are all dealt various hands of cards in this life. Some just have to fight more than others to play theirs right.
The beginning of it all
It was back in spring 2000 that Tessa’s unbelievable story all began. The youngster was just 11 years old at the time when she started to notice pain in her leg.
It seemed like nothing until Tessa’s parents were so worried they booked her a doctor’s appointment to make sure everything was okay. The doctors were confident they were just growing pains, and some painkillers would help to alleviate any symptoms. If only they had known the truth.
Getting worse and worse
Although Tessa had been told there was nothing to worry about, something still didn’t seem right. The pain wasn’t getting any better. In fact, it was as if it was getting more and more painful with every day that passed.
Some days, Tessa would even struggle to get out of bed and get ready for school. Surely this couldn’t all just be pain from growing up? There had to be something more to it, but no one knew what to do.
Worrying side effects
It got to the point where Tessa couldn’t even touch her leg without being in absolute agony. Now, the youngster would sit and cry for minutes at a time because the pain was so severe.
Plus, Tessa could no longer touch her leg without excruciating pain radiating through her body. As if all of that wasn’t enough, Tessa now had to spend a few minutes every morning forcing herself to bend her leg before she could get out of bed and walk.
Back to the doctor’s office
Tessa’s parents knew there had to be more to it than just growing pains. There was no way their daughter could be in so much pain merely from getting taller.
The doctors sent Tessa for an MRI scan to see if there was anything inside her leg as well as doing a biopsy of the tissue. Just ten days after the mini operation, Tessa was back in the surgeon’s office having her stitches checked when she was about to learn some heartbreaking news.
Dropping a bombshell
At just 11 years old, Tessa learned the news that no one ever expects to hear: she had been diagnosed with cancer. Osteogenic sarcoma in her right femur bone, in fact.
This type of cancer starts in bones where new tissue is growing in young people. The most common sites are the shin, upper arm, and thigh bones, and Tessa now learned she was one of the 800 – 900 young Americans that hear the news every year. Everything was happening so quickly.
Things started moving fast
As soon as Tessa and her family heard the diagnosis, everything started to happen so fast. The doctors knew they had to move quickly if they wanted Tessa to get the best outcome possible.
The youngster soon had a line inserted straight into the middle of her chest so the nurses were able to administer chemotherapy directly into Tessa’s body. This was a huge toll on Tessa’s little body. Unfortunately, there was even worse news on the horizon.
Coping with the side effects
Tessa had always been the child with long, brown hair that she loved to play with and style. However, there are many side effects that come with chemotherapy.
The doctors and nurses warned Tessa that the chances were her hair would fall out throughout her treatment. They thought the best way to cope with the side effect was to cut it shorter. Unfortunately, this had disastrous consequences as Tessa suddenly felt vulnerable and as though she was losing herself.
Trying everything they could
Two months continued to tick by, and Tessa was in the hospital five days a week nearly every single week. She felt weak and lethargic all the time, but that wasn’t the worst bit.
Doctors were worried the chemotherapy wasn’t having enough of an effect to eradicate the cancer. It was taking a significant toll on Tessa’s body that was leaving her with no energy. Tessa just knew she wanted the cancer out of her body. At last, the doctors might have had a solution; one that would change her life.
Making the decision
The surgeon that had been working alongside Tessa revealed that she could be cancer-free if she had her leg amputated. This was huge news for anyone, let alone an 11-year-old.
They would have to cut above the tumor to ensure there was no chance of it coming back meaning she would lose her whole leg. However, Tessa’s parents wanted to give their daughter the opportunity to decide. It was a huge decision, but Tessa knew it had to be better than going through this treatment ever again.
Coming out the other side
September 29, 2000, finally rolled around, and Tessa headed in to have her leg amputated. It wasn’t long before she was coming around from the anesthetic.
The youngster learned to press the morphine whenever she was in pain and was grateful when her parents arrived at her bedside. Tessa told The Mirror that she never forgets the words “Dad, I did it” thanks to her dad’s encouragement. Her parents knew that Tessa was about to tackle this new challenge better than most people in the world.
Ready to face the music
Now, Tessa is 29 years old and finally ready to embrace the decision she made almost twenty years ago. It might have taken a long time to accept the change, but has Tessa learned to live with her new body?
The star spoke in an interview with The Mirror where she admitted that she now feels “more beautiful” than she ever has in the past. Tessa also added that she was “given a second chance at life” thanks to having her leg amputated.
Learning to live again
So much has happened for Tessa in the two decades since her operation. The star admits that her first prosthetic leg came after three months of being stuck in bed.
Although she had the feeling of standing once again, the youngster’s first prosthetic didn’t bend at the knee. It was designed to help Tessa regain strength in her body. It was a start, but it was nowhere near the life she had been used to. Even so, Tessa never wanted to give up on her journey.
Back to school
One of the biggest things for Tessa was learning how to cope at school. The youngster admits that it was a tough time as she always felt as though she stood out compared to her other friends at school.
Tessa just wanted to blend in but was forced to learn how to live an entirely different life to the one she had before. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Tessa’s hair started to recover and grow back. At last, she began to look and feel more like her old self.
Getting through the tough times
Tessa now loves spreading her confidence with others all around the world, but admits that wasn’t always the case. In fact, she confesses that her teenage years were pretty tough as she struggled to accept her prosthetic leg.
Plus, Tessa had all of this to worry about while still learning how to meet friends and date. Nowadays, Tessa has a prosthetic designed to bend at the knee, and the star has more freedom than ever before. It’s a brand new chapter in her life.
Looking to others
Although Tessa had a very personal journey to battle through, it was the help of other people that helped the youngster see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Tessa admits that it was learning about other amputees that gave her hope for the future. Seeing how others had learned to walk, run, and even play sports was a huge push that life was about to get better. Tessa now works at getting back to her usual self, too.
A blast from the past
It’s been many years since Tessa headed in for her life-changing operation, and the star confesses she no longer remembers what it’s like to have two of her own legs anymore. In fact, it’s almost as if she has always had a prosthetic.
In her interview with The Mirror, Tessa spoke about how “my prosthetic is part of me and it’s who I am.” It looks as though gaining her new leg was just what Tessa needed to start living her life to the fullest.
A break from it all
Sure, Tessa is now fully confident on her new prosthetic leg, but that doesn’t mean she wants to wear it all the time. In fact, the star admits there are days that she opts for no prosthetic it sometimes grows uncomfortable or gives her sores.
Although it has taken twenty years for Tessa to accept her new lifestyle fully, she knew things had to change. She stated that things fell into place when she realized she “couldn’t keep living my life hating something I couldn’t change.”
A growing family
It seems as though Tessa has gained more than just a new prosthetic; the star has also tied the knot with her new husband, Casey.
Together, the couple have gone on to share two sons, and Tessa knows that her prosthetic leg now gives her the chance to enjoy life with her growing family. One wrong decision all those years ago could have spelled an entirely different story. In fact, Tessa might not be here at all if she didn’t opt for the surgery.
Appearing all around the world
It wasn’t long before Tessa’s heart-warming story spread all around the world. Now, the model has been featured in a whole host of news outlets and magazines across the planet.
Tessa just hopes that so much global coverage of her journey will help spread her story far and wide. This way, people can learn that there is no harm in being different to others. Plus, there is no shame in anything that happens to us, and merely just proves that we are strong enough to carry on.
Hitting the runway
Tessa has been lucky enough to enjoy a host of opportunities thanks to her bravery of speaking up about her story. One of the many things she has participated in is the anti-Victoria’s Secret show.
The fashion show was created to show beauty from all walks of life, including people that have survived near-fatal car crashes, and those born with dwarfism. Tessa was one of the many that got the chance to walk the runway and show that being an amputee is just as powerful as anyone else.
A true natural
It looks as though all of Tessa’s hard work now means that she is a natural in front of the camera. As well as running a host of social media profiles, Tessa also has her own YouTube channel.
Here, the star can show off everything about her life, including life updates, big news, and even how she lives her life with a prosthetic leg. Tessa just hopes that her internet presence will help to spread her story to as many people as possible.
Thanking the true star
If there is one person that Tessa wants to thank for their hard work and dedication, it’s her 11-year-old self. The star says that little girl had more strength than anyone could have ever imagined from most people, let alone someone so young.
Tessa just can’t believe how fast everything has gone from the day she headed into the operating room to now. It seems as though all her experiences have just meant she is able to come out the other side a stronger person than ever.
Inspiring the world
Tessa is hopeful that her story will grow to inspire someone else going through the same thing she went through all those years ago.
Although it is tough to tell who she is able to reach, Tessa confesses that even if she is only able to support one person, then she still feels as though she has used her second chance at life to the fullest. Her body positivity has attracted Tessa a whole host of fans, and one day her self-acceptance could help save a life.
While Tessa has thousands of supporters and people who are inspired by her story, there are still those out there who have less friendly things to say.
Some of the negative responses she has gotten include that she took a photo off the internet of a sick child and said it was her in order to get likes on social media. Another common comment is that she has had reconstructive surgery on her face to look the way she does. Thankfully, these hurtful comments don’t bring Tessa down, though.