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Marcela Haralampidis is a bilateral below knee amputee and a passionate advocate for people with disabilities.
“I have chronic tissue disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis which contributed to me needing to have the amputations.”
The mum-of-two explains that it was a shock to be told that she needed to amputate below her knee in 2012.
“I was supposed to be going on a European holiday with my son and daughter and show them a bit of my country, Czech Republic.
“Instead I needed an amputation. It felt unbelievable. It was really difficult.
“My sister and friends really helped me during this time,” Marcela says.
Marcela was at Austin Health's Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre for six months and says that the physiotherapy team were a crucial part of her recovery and rehabilitation.
“My physiotherapist Helen spent hours with me, teaching me how to walk again. I’m so grateful to the wonderful team at Talbot.”
In 2016, Marcela needed to undergo another amputation, making her a bilateral below knee amputee.
“I thought oh my god, I just got used to having one leg and now I need to learn how to walk all over again.”
Marcela says that it’s important to stay positive and know that things will get better.
“I thought to myself I am going to walk again, and I worked really hard to achieve that.
“I use a walker now when I’m out just to feel more secure, but when I’m at home I walk unassisted," she says.
Marcela is now an NDIS Support Coordinator and explains that her experience inspired her to take on a role where she could make a difference.
“As part of my role I advocate for people with disabilities to ensure they get the support they need to maintain their autonomy and have fulfilling lives.”
She’s also very passionate about travel and adventure.
“The photo I’ve shared was taken earlier this year before COVID-19 restrictions. It’s of my cousin Hana, myself (in the middle) and my friend Vera in front of a Cessna plane. This was a proud and fun moment for me.
“They were visiting from Czech Republic and I took them to Esperance in Western Australia to see the pink lake.
“It was a bit of a challenge, but I didn’t let my disability stop me,” Marcela says.