High school senior faces COVID-19 scare as she prepares for amputation

Local News

The pandemic has hit high school seniors, robbing them of traditions such as walking across the stage to receive a diploma.

That was devastating enough to one Sioux Falls senior until walking across a stage became something she would never be able to take for granted.

17-year-old Corrin Gillespie could never have imagined her senior year would wind up this way.

“My expectations were to have a more easy-going year with my friends before we go off to college. Obviously that didn’t happen with COVID-19, but there’s now been a lot more obstacles,” Corrin Gillspie said.

Corrin Gillespie Graduates from Lincoln High School May 24th

One big obstacle in particular, began in mid-March.

“My ankle started to hurt after a hike and we thought it was just a sprained ankle,” Corrin said.

But the pain was so intense, her mother, Angie Gillespie, took her to the doctor.

“By the time we got back home from the X-ray, they had called and said you need to get an MRI,” Angie said.

Corrin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer most often occurring in people under the age of 25.

Angie GIllespie: When you hear that, it’s like deer in headlights. The worst thing possible.

Kennecke: So when you heard that word, cancer, what went through your mind?
Corrin Gillespie: It was just really shocking. I personally haven’t known anyone who’s had cancer and when you hear cancer, you think it’s the worst thing that can happen to you.

Angie Gillespie: It happened, very, very fast—from the moment we had the X-ray, to the moment we were in Mayo.

Corrin Gillespie and her mom, Angie, at Mayo Clinic during pandemic

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester first thought they might be able to remove the cancer in her ankle. But the tumor was too close to a blood vessel and a nerve.

“So the only option is amputation. So the decision was made for us,’ Angie said.

Amputation of her right leg below her knee is not something this long-time dancer and active girl ever expected to face.

“I’m going to college. I’m going into my 20’s. It’s never a good time to get an amputation, but I just thought this time wasn’t great,” Corrin said.

Corrin Gillespie took part in dance programs for eight years

Corrin was schedule to undergo the amputation at Mayo earlier this month, but then there was another setback. A test required before surgery came back positive for COVID-19.

“We were so careful. She didn’t go anywhere. It was a shock,” Angie said.

“The doctors told me I didn’t do anything to get corona. But I was just kind of embarrassed, because it did postpone my surgery,” Corrin said.

Corrin never showed any symptoms and the rest of her family’s tests were negative. She is now scheduled to undergo the amputation next week.

“I’ve always considered myself to be an optimistic person “But this has definitely shown me that the little things that used to upset me don’t matter as much, because stuff can always be worse. This will push me to be a better, happier and more positive person.”

High school senior, Corrin Gillespie, on upcoming amputation

“She has a new adventure in front of her and that’s going to college and we just want blue skies ahead and for everybody to be healthy. It’s just what has to be done,” Angie said.

KELOLAND News is going to take you through Corrin’s journey through surgery and getting a prosthesis. She hopes to be able to walk across the stage to get her diploma when Lincoln High School holds its in-person graduation this summer.

GoFundMe for Corrin Gillespie

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