by Morgan Tilton, Teton Gravity Research
At just 10 years old, professional para-snowboarder John Leslie found a lump behind his knee. The tumor was osteogenic sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Timing of the biopsy was impeccable. He started chemotherapy immediately, and three months later—as an 11-year-old—had to decide between three surgery options.
After reflecting a full amputation, Leslie chose an alternative Van Ness rotationplasty with the hopes of pursuing upright sports (his childhood dream was to be a NHL hockey player), and to continue his life as an athlete.
Ultimately, his health decision aligned.
Within one year, he was skating non-body contact hockey, and he learned how to snowboard—which ultimately stole his passion and focus. Now the 23-year-old Paralympic snowboarder—who won 7th place in Sochi—is a full time athlete and has trained to become one of the world’s top riders.