Mom forced to sacrifice her leg in order to pursue her dream of becoming a snowboarder
Back in May 2016, Marleen Verbeek from Madrid, Spain, made the life-changing decision to have her leg amputated below the knee.
A survivor of bacterial meningitis, Verbeek had dreams of becoming a professional snowboarder. However, despite the eight months she spent in hospital when she first contracted the illness at the age of 13, and in spite of the 30 surgeries she received as a result, she still endured a great deal of pain in her thirties.
This played a huge part in the 38-year-old mother's decision to have part of her left leg amputated.
Watch as Verbeek very candidly speaks about living with a prosthetic leg, and shows off her skills on the slopes:
What further sparked the decision was her awareness of other cases of lower leg amputations in which the patient was now able to partake in physical activities such as snowboarding.
Verbeek was determined to realise her dream of becoming a Paralympic snowboarder.
The dedicated athlete documents her progress on her Instagram page where she shares inspirational stories related to her meningitis, her amputation, and her time spent coming to grips with snowboarding post-amputation.
In a particularly poignant caption to her most recent Instagram post, Verbeek goes into detail about what it was like contracting meningitis at 13:
"On my 13th birthday, I was rushed to the hospital with meningococcal sepsis. I remember the way to the hospital and my toenails already being black. My father told me to fight for my life, but I was a teenager and just told him: for god sake dad, I am not going to die. And I didn’t... I am still very happy to be alive and every 1st of March I will celebrate [sic]."
Burns from the bacteria severely damaged 35% of Verbeek's body, especially her legs which were left "black and half-dead".
In a post from January 17, Verbeek very candidly wrote about the difficulties of going about life with a prosthetic leg:
"It’s not always easy to have a prosthetic leg. Last month I have had problems with my socket and I had pain all the time. It scares me because I always think that I will be back in pain forever like I was before my amputation.
But luckily the problems got solved and I am not in pain anymore. So now I feel on top of the world again. Pain sucks and it will be a constant struggle to make sure my socket fits right. But when it fits right, nothing can stop me."
We wish Verbeek the best of luck in her future.