Surgeons amputate 20 year-old Billy’s leg after removing a tumour the size of a tin of baked beans - now he needs £70,000 for a bionic limb to help him lead a normal life

Billy Lee with girlfriend Shirley Cooper

Billy Lee with girlfriend Shirley Cooper - Credit: Archant

A £70,000 appeal has been launched to fund a bionic leg for a 20 year-old trainee electrician who lost a limb to cancer.

Billy Lee with parents Spencer and Rebecca (Bex) Lee

Billy Lee with parents Spencer and Rebecca (Bex) Lee - Credit: Archant

Surgeons amputated his right leg during an operation to remove a tumour – described as the size of a small baked bean can.

His family now hope to allow him a normal life by raising £70,000 for a specialist prosthetic limb.

Rebecca (Bex) and Spencer Lee, of Wisbech St Mary, have been taking it in turns with Billy’s girlfriend Shirley Cooper to stay with him at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. It was there Billy underwent an operation to have his right leg and part of his hip amputated last Wednesday.

Mrs Lee explained that her son first started complaining about pain in his knee last summer. Despite numerous trips to the doctors and an MRI scan it was only in November, a fortnight before his 20th birthday, that he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer known as sarnovia sarcoma.

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“He was in excruciating pain, he was taking so many painkillers and nothing was working,” she said.

“But when the diagnosis came it was a real shock; he had a 10cm tumour at the top of his leg, it was the size of a can of baked beans.

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“He was immediately told not to walk and to keep his weight off the leg because the cancer had made it weak.

“But on December 1 his leg snapped through the stress of the tumour making him bed bound in Addenbrooke’s Hospital for eight weeks, including over Christmas before being transferred to the Birmingham hospital for treatment.

“He was still in pain despite all the strong drugs because they couldn’t fix the break because of the cancer.”

Mrs Lee is determined to give her son the normal life he deserves.

She said: “He has been brilliant but he has said a lot of things including that he won’t go out with his mates again or take his girlfriend to a restaurant due to body image; it breaks our heart.”

“We have since discovered this type of cancer, although rare, is common in young people and is associated with height, growth spurts and growing pains. Billy is 6ft 1in tall, he had growing pains and he has also had a massive growth spurt.

“If we had realised this type of cancer is linked to these things we might have thought about it earlier when he first started complaining about pain in his knee that then went to his hip,” she said.

Billy, who stood up for the first time in over eight weeks on Friday, just two days after the operation, will be fitted with a training leg but it is more for balance rather than walking, once he has healed. His family, which includes younger sisters Reneé, 12, and Sydney, 9, want him to have a fully functioning leg so he can walk again.

They have set up a Facebook page for people to make donations to a charity they are launching to raise the £70,000. On-going fundraising will be needed to help pay for five yearly maintenance and repairs of the leg, which will cost around £18,500 each time.

She said:” We were shocked to be told he would either be on crutches or in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but we have done a lot of research and found this ‘Helix 3D’ leg and hip prosthetic but the NHS will not fund it.”

The charity, “A Local Wish” headed by business women Christina Purcell of Holiday with Us and Nickie Bantoft of Bantoft Associates have agreed to help raise money for the cause.

The family hope to hit their target within the year when Billy, who will be able to complete his apprenticeship with Bloom and Wake when he is ready, will be healed enough to have the new leg.

The first fundraising event is a fitness day on February 8 at the 24/7 gym at Wisbech Tesco. A calendar of events will be available on the Billy Lee Walk On MY Own Two Feet Fundraising page.

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