Suffolk

'I was introduced to the idea of dying quite young'

Image caption Hip-hop performer Johnny Magill says he has never let having one leg hold him back

Johnny Magill broke his leg while skateboarding and then learned he had bone cancer. He was 12 at the time.

What followed was a year of chemotherapy and dozens of operations on his leg before the decision was made to amputate the limb.

The hip-hop performer from Ipswich has never had a prosthetic leg and instead uses his crutches.

Now aged 27, he describes the opportunities being an amputee has given him - from performing during the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony to appearing in top TV shows.

'I was in so much pain'

Image caption His leg first gave way and broke when he was skateboarding with friends

We'd been skating for a little while and then I went to drop into the ramp and my back foot fell off the skateboard and I broke my leg.

Everybody saw it and my leg was bending the wrong way round. I just screamed and bent my leg back to the way it should be.

Loads of people came rushing over to me and a woman tried to put a blanket on me. I was in so much pain.

Image caption Johnny had been an active child before he broke his leg

An ambulance was called and my friend rang my mum and she came.

They'd given me loads of drugs so I was pretty out of it but I remember going over speed bumps and that really hurting my leg.

I broke my thigh bone, just above my knee, and it broke in on itself.

When they took me down to surgery at the hospital to repair it, they put in a plate and seven screws and then I was in traction to hold them in place.

I remember coming out of hospital in a cast but they had found a shadow behind my bone. Then we got called back up and they took a biopsy.

We got the results and that's when they said it's cancer.

'I wasn't a normal kid, I was bald and in hospital'

Image caption He had to undergo 12 months of chemotherapy for the bone cancer

They said the cancer was on my lung as well as my leg.

My sisters came up to the hospital and they were really supportive.

They were young as well, so my granddad, my mum, my dad, they were all sharing responsibility for me at the hospital and them at home.

The doctors removed the tumour in my knee, in my leg, where it broke - that's why it broke because it had weakened the bone.

When they took out the tumour, the issue was that it was such a large part of bone and they said we need to replace the bone with something.

There was this new thing at the time, a magnet knee basically, and you'd put it in a machine and it would grow, it would lengthen.

From my thigh to my shin was pretty much metal. I had my own kneecap but not my own knee.

They removed the lower part of my right lung and from there I had to have treatment to make sure all the tumour had gone.

Image copyright Family Photo
Image caption Johnny says he has had a lot of support from his sisters and mum Davina Dobrucki

I was introduced to the idea of dying quite young but I was very strong throughout, I had to be for everyone else as well.

My family around me tried to make me feel like a normal kid but obviously I knew I wasn't a normal kid because I was bald and I was at a hospital ward while everyone else was at school.

I was just feeling sick all the time, not being able to eat, having ulcers all in the mouth, from the chemo, the side effects were really bad.

It was a horrible time but I always look back at that time because that's where the darkness is. People lose perspective of that.

I was cancer-free from about 14 or 15. It was the best thing ever when we found out, no more chemo.

'You think your world is going to end'

Image caption He felt like he could get on with his life once the leg was amputated

I had been back and forth to hospital for about 30 operations over four years.

When my leg became infected when I was 16, doctors said they were going to have to take the metalwork out - it ran right from my lower thigh to my shin.

They said they could remove it and replace it but they couldn't guarantee it'd be back working in a year. That didn't make much sense to me.

The other option was to have the leg amputated.

For me, there was no question about removing it. In my mind, I was like "yep, let's have it cut off and I can move on with my life".

When I came out of hospital, I was adamant to be seen as normal and I was insistent that I wouldn't leave the house without a fake leg on.

But I didn't get on with a prosthetic leg - even now, I've tried it, and it's not something I've felt 100% with so I've always stuck with the crutches.

It was hard for me to see myself as normal at first - you think your whole world is going to end.

And then the next thing I knew I was out in my wheelchair going around the neighbourhood, just hanging out with my friends.

It made me realise that nobody was treating me any different, my friends and family all saw me just the same.

'We are super-humans'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Johnny was part of the opening ceremony in the London 2012 Paralympic Games

I wanted to get into film and acting.

My mum found this agency for extras work, which did all sorts of stuff - you'd be walking past a shop in a programme.

At the time, a lot of companies were looking for amputees and my details got sent off to them.

Holby City got in touch and they wanted me to be a wounded extra. I thought 'this is awesome', I really loved it.

Then I did Downton Abbey, which was pretty cool. We went to this farm and they needed lots of wounded extras so there were loads of us amputees.

In 2012, I was part of the opening ceremony at the Paralympic Games in London.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption He said the experience helped him realise his potential

It came about through an agency called Amputees in Action and I trained as an aerialist with the British Circus School over an 18-week period.

During the globally screened show, I was part of a four-piece performance on a rope that was 30ft (9m) in the air with no harness. It was pretty scary to be honest.

I also did a synchronised wheelchair performance with lots of other people in wheelchairs. That was an amazing experience.

I think everybody there is now doing something that they really wanted to do because everybody encouraged each other and motivated each other.

There were people there with no legs and one arm, there were people there who were blind doing trapeze and stuff; it was really cool and encouraging, and made us realise we are super-humans.

'My friends told me I've got a story to tell'

Image copyright Bill Holland
Image caption The 27-year-old performs as Johnny Sticxx

I remember I was in HMV, I bought a Tupac DVD and it was in some kind of sale bin.

I watched it from the age of 10 to 16, I used to watch it regularly, just because I love his story, his passion and the way he delivers it on the mic - he's one of the greatest.

Then the first CD I bought was a rap CD - it was Get Rich or Die Tryin' by 50 Cent - and that's when I really I fell in love with hip-hop, that's when I started dressing like hip-hop, speaking like hip-hop.

That was when hip-hop really became part of my life, even before I could rap.

It was in 2012 when I really started writing music myself, that's when I realised it was really helpful for me.

Image caption Johnny said he didn't get on with a prosthetic leg so stuck with his crutches

Beforehand I struggled with my vocabulary, I didn't feel like I was capable of writing lyrics - it wasn't until I tried to write lyrics that I realised I could do it.

It was my friends, knowing my love of hip-hop music, who suggested I write my own songs.

They told me I had a good story to tell.

Music has helped me through a lot of stuff and that's what I want to do with my music - help others and realise you can have fun in life and to lift your head and keep moving forward.

Lyrics in my songs include: "Lost a lung, lost a limb, the boat has sank, I learnt to swim, had to fly and grew some wings, chemo was my five a day, now I'm eating like I'm a king."

We need to remember not to dwell on things that have already happened... there's nothing you can do about it.

I think looking back is detrimental to people's mental health. All you can do is try to enjoy your present and your moment.

As told to Kate Scotter

Listen to the latest single, Hop Skip, by Johnny Sticxx on BBC Introducing in Suffolk

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