Woodcreek amputee Alex Parra continues swimming successBy: Cameron Salerno
It has been more than a year and half since Alex Parra experienced one of the worst days of his life. On Aug. 16, 2016 Parra was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer, and less than four months later was forced to have his leg amputated in order to save his life.
“I got my leg amputated Dec. 1, 2016 the process leading to it was eight sessions of chemo which took four months.” Woodcreek senior Alex Parra explained. “Amputation and cancer has made me stronger because it has given me a greater outlook on life and that we should be grateful for the things that we have and to just make every moment count because you never know when your life can change in an instant.”
Parra at age 15 had to make one of the toughest choices of his life, a knee replacement which would limit his athletic career or an amputation; which with rehab prolong his swim career. Parra, consulted with his family, and drew to the conclusion the amputation would be the best choice.
“The doctor said I had a choice between amputation and knee replacement so at age 15 in October so I decided that amputation was the best option.” Parra confessed. “ (The amputation) was the only way that I could stay active and still continue to swim.”
Following the amputation, Parra started a grueling rehab which consisted of learning how to walk again with a prosthetic.
“The rehab was tough getting a new prosthetic.” Parra said. “It was a hard process to try and walk again in it, but over time I got the hang of it.”
The rehab cost Parra his junior year of swimming but he used it as motivation coming into his senior season.
“I have been swimming a total of 3 years. I swam Freshman year, Sophomore year and Senior year of high school swimming year round.” Parra explained. “I started swimming again after amputation in July of 2017 training for senior year.”
Parra used the training in the offseason to propel him all the way to the state championship for the Paralympic 50 free and 100 free finals.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it,” Para said on making the state finals. “I never would’ve thought that I would even make it to state after losing my leg and going through cancer so I’m really just speechless that I made it that far.”
Parra went on to place third in the 100 free and fourth in the 50 free to earn some hardware for himself while representing Woodcreek.
“I prepared myself by just saying I’m just gonna race and do the best I can,” Para said on his mentality coming into the state championship meet.
Sierra College will be Parra’s next stop. Alex will swim for the Wolverines in the springtime with hopes of making the Paralympics one day.
“I will be swimming for Sierra college next year,” Parra said. ”My hope to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics, in Tokyo by 2019.”