“Hi, I’m Mark Steel, and I’m asking for your money.” It’s a request the 21-year-old Peterborough resident said he didn’t want to make — asking friends and strangers for money to help pay for his prosthetic leg.
“I feel uncomfortable, almost, taking money from people, so I’m struggling with that,” Steel said. “But at the same time, I have to.”
Steel learned he had cancer four days after his 21st birthday — Osteogenic sarcoma. It’s the same cancer Terry Fox had.
“He was just a huge hero of mine… he was just a huge inspiration,” Steel said of Fox. “So having the same diagnosis as he did helped me a bit.”
And, like Fox, Steel was told he would lose his leg to cancer. His leg was amputated above the knee on Jan. 25.
As he heals, he said he’s already facing his next challenge — paying for a prosthetic leg. Steel said he was told they cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 — far above what he said he can afford.
“I just want, like, something to walk with. I don’t want, like, a mind-controlled, cyborg that shoots lasers — I just want a walking thing,” Steel said with a laugh.
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the province covers up to 75 per cent of two types of prosthetic limbs when limbs are lost due to disease or injury, through its Assistive Devices Program.
Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said his office is available to help Steel get what he needs.
“We’re dealing with a lot of issues like this, and we do go out of our way to make sure that we take advantage of the provincial programs in place,” Leal told CHEX News.
Steel said his cancer is more common in children. And despite losing his leg at the age of 21, he said he’s grateful that he had a chance to enjoy a healthy childhood.
“A lot of kids don’t have that chance because they’re dealing with this,” Steel said. “They are 10 years old and they wake up in the hospital and they have no leg.”
“So I’m really lucky because I got that chance, so I’m eternally grateful.”
Steel hopes to raise $6,000 through his GoFundMe campaign.
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