SRT is proud to share the many accomplishments of Brian Ricketts of St. Charles, Illinois!
How did your amputation occur?
When I was about 6 years old, a tumor was discovered in my left calf which turned out to be rhabdomyosarcoma. I underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but a few years later, the cancer returned in my left knee, and the chemo wasn’t working as well as my doctors had hoped, so they decided the best course of action was to amputate my leg just above the left knee to prevent the cancer from spreading elsewhere.
Where do you work?
I work for an inspection company called Millennium Information Services as a software developer. I help write code for our company website and mobile applications that our customers, vendors, and inspectors use for their jobs.
Out of all of your accomplishments, which are you most proud of and why?
This has always been a tough question to answer for me. I’m quite proud of my skills as a software developer, as I’ve been working on perfecting them a lot longer than a lot of people. I started writing code before I was a teenager (and I was quite bad at it back then, as expected, but I enjoyed it!) and I’ve been able to work my way up in my career to where I can tackle just about any challenge someone throws at me.
Something else I’m quite proud of has to do with my passion for flying and aviation. I’ve always had a fascination with airplanes and flying ever since I learned the words to talk about it, but I was always afraid I would never be able to fly a plane because I have a prosthetic left leg, which means I can’t use the left brake or rudder very easily. I was talking to a friend of mine who happens to be a flight instructor about this, and he said he would take me up for a free flight lesson if I helped pay for the time in the plane. He let me do just about everything except operating the rudders, including landing. He said he even had a student who had an above-knee prosthetic who got his private pilot’s license and explained how that student was able to work around having a prosthetic leg. After that flight, I felt way more confident in trying stuff I didn’t think possible.
I certainly don’t feel inhibited in being able to get stuff done around home, which I feel quite proud about. I regularly help clean the house including vacuuming and dusting, I do laundry twice a week or so, and enjoy hand-washing my car when it’s nice outside. I don’t do an awful lot of cooking, but I do enjoy it from time to time.
How big of a role does the proper fit of your prosthesis play in making it a good or bad day?
It’s very important that my leg is comfortable to wear, as I try to be a pretty active individual. I like to travel with friends to different cities a few times a year to attend different events (except for during 2020 and 2021, for obvious reasons), and it’s very important that I don’t have to worry about my leg causing pain after walking a lot. I used to have a Genium knee which worked great for several years, but it started encountering a number of malfunctions towards the end of its life, and it made me worry that it would stop working while I was traveling. My new C-Leg relieved me of that anxiety and it’s even a bit lighter, making walking in it easier.
What has your experience been like with SRT?
I’ve been a patient of the Gurnee office since it was McKinney Prosthetics, and it’s been a wonderful experience. The people at the office are always very friendly and accommodating, especially back when I was a young curious child and had a new question just about every step I took. I look forward to seeing the staff at the office whenever I go in for a visit, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to see the same familiar faces for many years now.
What would you like to say to a new amputee to encourage them?
I would tell them to not be afraid of testing the limits of what they can do, as long as they can do so safely. A new amputee should try and build a good relationship with their prosthetist so that they can discuss concerns such as things they are afraid they’ll no longer be able to do, as that’s the best way to ensure that a prosthetic is built in a way that will allow them to do those things.