Young Gymnast Tumbles on One Leg After Overcoming Cancer


"We all went back to the room and all of the family was teary. Adam quietly said, 'Can someone bring me my guitar?' He sat back in his hospital bed and played the most beautiful music and everyone in the room was crying. He just touched everyone's heart," Leslie Starr said.

Two days later, Starr went through another amputation, this time above the knee to remove the aggressive cancer that had spread. He said it was odd to see where his leg should have been after the amputation.

"It was total surprise. You can't imagine what it will look like. You're just so used to seeing your body the same way day and day again and then to see such a huge change. There's no way to prepare someone for that," Starr said.

Starr took the spring semester off from college and for the next seven months he endured a rigorous schedule of chemotherapy.

"Just imagine how it feels when you first wake up, and you feel super tired and you don't want to get your day started. That's how I felt most of the time> It just totally takes the energy out of you. It just knocked me out," Starr said. "There were a few times I got very sick."

Starr Learns to Walk and Attempts Gymnastics

Starr was fitted with a prosthetic leg and learned to walk with his new body. He said the most difficult part was building up his endurance to walk long distances.

"I can remember going back to school and walking across campus and my left leg burning and totally exhausted, because it was doing all the work," Starr said.

Starr said one thing that pulled him through his cancer was his desire to become a doctor. He is a pre-med student and will be applying to medical school after he graduates next year. He is considering the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation after going through his illness.

Starr spent the last two years rehabilitating, and just last week he decided to go back to the gym to see if he could still tumble.

"I had stood on one leg in my room balancing a few times. I thought, man I feel strong enough to do a back tuck," Starr said.

Starr walked into the gym with a couple of friends and a camera, with a goal in mind of completing a back tuck.

"I was really surprised how the beginning of the back flip wasn't that different but the landing was," Starr said. "It's all about finding the right balance?that was the part I was most nervous about because I wasn't sure if I would fall over or grab for my leg that wasn't there."

Starr's One-Legged Tumbling Video Goes Viral

To Starr's surprise, he could still land a back tuck and began attempting other gymnastics tricks that were also successful.

"It was really exciting that I was able to do something I hadn't been able to do for so long. I was getting in touch with a part of myself that I hadn't been able to for a long time," Starr said.

Starr posted the tumbling video online for his family and friends to see. The video became a viral sensation online with hundreds of thousands views. Messages came pouring into Starr's inbox from all over the country, some from amputees who were inspired by what Starr could do.

"I've been really surprised; it's all been really positive. I never expected for it take off like this," Starr said.

Starr says his return to the gym serves as an affirmation that he can achieve his goals and be successful.

"Being able to do gymnastics again means more to me than just knowing that I'm capable of doing flips. It makes me feel like I'm still the same person I was before," Starr said.

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