I was shaking as I walked down the hall, where stark white walls and bright fluorescent lights surrounded me. As I entered the room, everything became so real. My initial shock had worn off, and as I saw my younger brother lying in the hospital bed, my heart sank. Little did I know, there was much worse news to hear. The cancer had already spread to his bone marrow. I knew this was devastating news, as bone marrow, essentially, is where all the blood cells are formed. I knew that this progression of the cancer meant even more shockingly low odds.
Just a few months prior, I was home from school for Thanksgiving break when my family broke the news to me. I was shocked—I had never heard of Ewing’s Sarcoma, and all I did know was that it was rare.
This was the kind of thing you saw in movies. I never imagined it could happen to someone so close to me.
Then, amidst the terrible circumstances, we struck some luck—rather, a true blessing. A nurse who was working at the hospital where my brother was getting treatment just happened to know about a research study being held at the National Institute of Health for this particular type of bone cancer: Ewing's Sarcoma. We rushed him to NIH, and my mother nervously signed off on an experimental procedure with no guaranteed positive results. My brother was only 16. This procedure saved his life, and he’s now been in remission for 11 years.
After surgical complications from his reconstructive surgery, he was no longer able to do many of the things he loved: snowboarding, running, playing sports. He chose to have his leg amputated so that he could continue his active lifestyle. My brother was handling the amputation better than I was secondhand. How was he able to do that? I can’t say, but he is one of the bravest people I know.
I guess that after he fought against all odds for his life, the amputation was just part of the aftermath.
I was afraid of the pain and the struggles he would face as an amputee, but he was so confident in his decision. He is now as active as ever. He went on to form a social enterprise that enables amputees to walk with high-performance prosthetics worldwide.
This experience had a big impact on me, and it opened my eyes to the challenges of those with disabilities. Since then, I’ve seen how people struggle when it comes to the simple task of finding clothing suitable for their needs. Current fashions aren’t inclusive, and the very few inclusive items are either not fashionable, not functional, or not affordable. My experience led me to become involved in the adaptive community and see how very underserved this market really is.
Like in many other areas, the disabled community is not prioritized when it comes to clothing options.
There are two-million new wheelchair users every year, and the number of amputees is expected to nearly double by 2050, bringing us to 3.6 million amputees in the US alone! This is a growing and largely underserved market.
I am the founder of Uniteable, a company on a mission to create a movement of inclusivity by providing wheelchair users and amputees with fashionable, functional, and affordable clothing.
Inclusivity is finally being addressed in the fashion industry. Brands from Tommy Hilfiger to Abilitee Adaptive Wear to even Target are broadening their range of product offerings for individuals with varying needs.
We are all so different in our body types and needs—isn’t it about time there are more options for everyone?
I couldn’t be happier to see inclusivity coming to the forefront of fashion. Let’s hope that it continues—because fashion is for everyone.