Meet Liam Twomey from North Bondi, Australia. Currently training with the hope of becoming a Paralympian, Liam talks about his life experiences – being diagnosed with cancer at a young age – and his renewed passion for life through sport.
“My name is Liam Twomey, I’m 24 years old and at age 7 in 2001 I was diagnosed with a Ewing Sarcoma cancer in my right foot. This led to intense chemotherapy throughout that year, which stopped the cancer spreading, but didn’t save my foot, and I became a below knee amputee in August 2001. I adapted pretty well at that age, thanks to a very loving, supportive family and friends. I was treated no differently, and wasn’t really held back from doing anything. Not until I became a teenager did I realise that I wasn’t very comfortable in my own skin. I’d say these were just basic thoughts and feelings that teenagers go through, but I felt like I was under a magnifying glass due to my leg, I thought I was the black sheep at high school.
I really struggled to come to terms with it for many years, doing anything possible to avoid dealing with it or accepting my situation. I engaged in some really unhealthy destructive behaviour until just before my 22nd birthday.
I relearnt how to swim at 22 and found so much joy in swimming and being in the water in general, it was hard to get me out of it! I quit my bad behaviours of smoking and drinking and made a plan to become healthy in every area of my life. Now I wasn’t a natural swimmer when I started, to be honest I was shocking. I loved it though, so I was motivated to keep doing it, because no matter how hard it was, the feeling after I finished was always worth it.
Swimming became less about swimming and more about embracing myself physically and mentally as an amputee. There was a lot of healing involved in pushing past those self imposed fears and just taking the plunge. Within 12 months I was working as a swim instructor in Bondi Beach, competing in State swimming competitions and working towards the goals of becoming a Paralympian.
Today I have moved from swimming, to Triathlon, and have found the sport I was looking for. Turns out I’m not too bad at it either! I’ve had the opportunity to race throughout Australia, and in a few weeks will be heading to Canada to compete internationally. Today at 24, I couldn’t be happier to be an amputee. Once I accepted who I was, holistically, I have had opportunities that not many people get in life, and I’m still just getting started. I’ve begun working with Charity organisations such as the Make A Wish Foundation, competing in the Noosa Triathlon for them, and also the City2Surf for Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
I don’t write that to show off. I write that to show that 12 months ago I’d never run, never ridden a bike properly or swum in the ocean. I was afraid, full of doubt, and I went and did all those things anyway. Even now as an established athlete they still scare me a bit!
Being scared or afraid of things can rob us of the opportunities to be the best we can be. So I believe that we need to embrace those feelings, acknowledge them and push forward anyway!”
Article by Liam Twomey: Instagram.
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