‘The best gift I could have received’: Military rehab center welcomes civilian teen after amputation

SAN ANTONIO – Cancer took away his leg but not his determination.

Noah Adams, 18, is fighting a rare form of cancer as he learns to walk again.

Adams isn’t rehabilitating at just any facility. He’s now a patient at the Center for the Intrepid, a world-class facility that usually only treats military members or veterans who have experienced amputation or burns.

Recently, Adams, who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma last year, worked with his physical therapist, Troy Hopkins, for the first time after receiving his prosthetic leg.

“It’s awesome. I’ve been waiting for it for like six months,” Adams said. “I can finally put my brain towards something instead of just sitting around waiting.”

In October, Adams decided to have a rotationplasty, which allows for more mobility than an above-knee amputation. During the procedure, doctors removed a portion of his upper leg, where the cancer existed, and rotated the bottom part to 180 degrees to form a functional knee joint.

“That was the whole reason I got the surgery, you know? No limits and not letting things hold me back,” Adams said.

Adams has many people rooting for him, including his JROTC senior Army instructor, Dwayne Rhodes, at Central Catholic High School.

Rhodes initiated the push to get Adams into the rehab center. Rhodes was a former company commander at Joint Base San Antonio and knew about the center’s success. The U.S. Secretary of the Army gave final approval earlier this year.

“We saw it as an opportunity to learn. Obviously, what Noah has been through is unusual, and we want to make sure to exercise our facility to ensure that we’re able to rehabilitate young, otherwise healthy people back to their fullest potential,” said Dr. Jeffrey Tiede, director of the Center for the Intrepid.

It was an opportunity for the facility to learn and teach and an opportunity for Adams to have access to the best rehab team as he moves into a new chapter in his life.

“It just makes me super excited for the future,” Adams said.

Adams will be the first in his graduating class to walk across the stage in May. He still has to undergo two more chemotherapy rounds before he is finished with his cancer treatment.

Adams said he looks forward to attending the University of Pittsburgh in the fall.


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