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Frontline nurse forced to amputate leg after ignoring pain to care for coronavirus patients

Posted at 12:05 AM, Aug 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-09 00:05:09-04

CBS NEWS — For weeks, frontline nurse Sette Buenaventura ignored the pain in her leg in order to focus on caring for coronavirus patients. But, doctors eventually discovered a tumor, and now, her leg has been amputated.

Buenaventura, a 26-year-old nurse at Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester, told BBC News that she ignored a cramp in her right calf for two months while working on the virus frontlines. The pain made it difficult to walk, but Buenaventura assumed it was just a side effect of the long hours spent on her feet at the hospital.

"We were there every hour to help anyone who needed us, I got a real taste for that level of commitment," she told the BBC. "That is what working in hospitals is like — you forget about your own pains because you're busy helping other people, which I love to do. But, everything comes at a cost."

The U.K. is one of the global hotspots of the virus, with more than 310,000 confirmed cases and over 46,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

When she could no longer ignore the pain, Buenaventura had her leg scanned in April, revealing a sarcoma. She was told the cancerous tumor had swelled to the "size of a golf ball."

In May, doctors said her only chance of survival was amputation.

"When they told me I had to have my leg removed, I got very upset, but because I had no time to think about it, I just got on with it," she said. "I like to look after myself and try my best to be healthy. I work in healthcare and never expected this to happen to me."

Since the surgery, Buenaventura has been fitted with a prosthetic leg. She hopes to return to work in November.

She urged people to learn from her mistake and take their pain seriously.

"I think it's really important for anyone with a lingering pain to go and get it checked out," she said. "If I had caught this sooner, I would probably be in a different position now."