10-year-old cancer survivor gets prosthetic leg

A 10-year-old San Ramon girl reached a milestone in her battle with osteosarcoma — getting her first prosthetic leg.

Brianne Bochenek, or “Breezy” as she likes to be called, was diagnosed with the rare form of bone cancer 10 months ago, causing her leg to be amputated above the knee in January.

“I’m just really glad everything gets to get started,” Breezy said. “It felt kind of weird, but eventually it’s going to be really worth it.”

Glen Elis has been making prosthetics for nearly 20 years and KTVU tracked his progress as he made Breezy’s new leg.

“The big goal is to be able to walk on the first day of fifth grade without crutches,” said Breezy’s mother Debbie Bocheneck.

The process started with Elis wrapping the girl’s limb in plaster of Paris. He then applied pressure near the top of the cast, helping to mold the plaster around Breezy’s tiny body.

Going from plaster to plastic and then to a prosthetic is no easy transformation, Elis said.

This is when artistry takes over, he said, with the sole purpose being to create a piece of art made especially for Breezy. The mold is carefully designed so Breezy’s weight will rest at the top rather than the bottom.

Doctors said they don’t want any pressure on the end of her limb until her bone is completely healed.

“For a first fitting, it’s coming out better than I expected,” Elis said during one appointment.

A few more adjustments were needed, but throughout it all Breezy kept up her spririts.

When the Bocheneks returned recently for their final appointment the prosthetic was ready for Breezy to wear.

It was fitted with Breezy’s tennis shoe and decorated with her favorite color, blue, and an inspirational quote.

To walk out the door, Breezy needed a lesson on how to use it.

Learning to walk with her new leg will take practice and time.

Even though it will take some getting used to, one word came to Breezy when asked about her new device — “excitement.”

“Overall it’s a good feeling as a parent knowing that she gets something that’s pretty huge, that’s a big payoff at the end of some challenging times,” said Breezy’s father Stan Bochenek.

The Bocheneks said Breezy, who has endured so much over the past 10 months, finally has something positive to look forward to — the chance to head back to school next month and reunite with her fifth grade classmates.

“Just to walk in without my crutches, I mean I think that’s not going to be too hard, I just need to make sure I have balance,” Breezy said.

The Bocheneks said once Breezy makes up her mind to do something, she’s determined to go after it, even if takes one step at a time.

The Bocheneks had even more to celebrate on Thursday.

Doctors at Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital in Palo Alto informed Breezy that the results of a final round of scans and tests showed she had no sign of cancer.

For the next year, Breezy will return to Stanford for monthly follow ups.

© 2012 Cox Media Group

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