The Unstoppable Emma Oldager

Emma Oldager is a 13 year old eighth grader at SAS. She’s lived in Singapore for two years and is originally from Denmark. Her favorite subject is science, and she enjoys swimming and horseback riding in her spare time. She’s just like any other eighth grader, with one small difference. She has a prosthetic leg.

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Emma enjoying a boat ride. Photo courtesy of Emma Oldager.

Emma was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was nine years old. She was told that the cancer had spread to a major vein in her calf, and then had spread to her ankle. In order to ensure they had removed all of the cancer, the doctors told Emma they would have to amputate her leg above the knee.

When Emma first had her leg amputated, she didn’t think she would ever be able to walk again. She thought she would have to be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life – until she heard about prosthetics.

The Eye: What’s the story behind your prosthetic leg?

Emma: A few months after I got my leg amputated, they gave me a leg that wasn’t as good as [the one I have now]. The upper part of the leg didn’t really fit me very well, so I couldn’t walk as well as I could have those first few months. Then I went to Denmark and I saw another prosthetist and I got a much better one. This one, right now, is an X3. Which is waterproof, and it’s a computerized leg. So it can do much more. It’s really cool.

Lives in New York with her husband Frank with their 3 kids,Rocco, Walter and Ricci (1).jpg

The Eye: How do people usually respond when they first meet you? Does that perception usually change?

Emma: A lot of people kind of stare at first, but then they get to know me until they don’t notice as much. Like my friends sometimes don’t even notice that I have the leg, so they kind of forget. But, like, little kids, they sometimes kinda stare and they wanna know what happened, and I’m fine with that. I’m fine with letting people know what happened, because I understand that they don’t really understand what happened to me.

The Eye: How would you like people to treat you?

Emma: I don’t want people to treat me like I can’t do anything. Sometimes people do treat me like that. Like, they’re kind of careful around me, and I don’t want people to treat me like that because I feel… different and weird.

The Eye: What is one of the biggest challenges you experienced?

Emma: I was trying on a running prosthetic for the second time and I had to learn the technique on how to run. It was very challenging because the people that were teaching me how to run had below knee amputations and I have an above knee amputation so it was a lot harder to figure out. In the end, I did get to run. Even though two people were holding me, it still felt really good to run again.

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Emma and three others wearing running prosthetics. Photo courtesy of Emma Oldager.

The Eye: What advice do you have for people who are trying to overcome obstacles?

Emma: If you want to do something as badly as I wanted to walk, then you just have to keep trying. And if you don’t get it at first, don’t give up. Just keep trying.

The Eye: What’s the best part about having a prosthetic leg?

Emma: Well, if I go to an amusement park, they let me cut in line. So that’s pretty cool.

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