Jacob Raleigh Loses Arm to Cancer, Makes State Tennis Tournament with Off Hand
Jacob Raleigh is a senior at Letcher County Central High School in Kentucky, and he recently underwent a life-altering procedure: he had his left arm amputated. Raleigh plays tennis for Letcher County, and in March of 2010, he noticed a lump on his wrist that made it too painful to swing a racket. His parents took him to have the wrist examined and doctors discovered he had Epithelioid Sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer that usually strikes young adults, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. He was given three options by doctors to treat the cancer: amputation, radiation, or replace the tendons in his arm with ones from his leg. The third option was easily the most appealing, so they went with it.
Unfortunately the cancer came back and Raleigh had to make the difficult decision to have his left arm amputated in October. Keep in mind that Raleigh is left-handed, so not having his dominant arm meant learning how to do everything with his off-hand.
That included playing tennis.
As a sophomore for Letcher County, Raleigh and his doubles partner reached the state tournament but lost in the first round. He had improved to become the team’s top singles player prior to the surgery, but after the amputation he tried to learn how to play with his off arm. And he was successful.
Raleigh went 6-2 in singles playing right handed, according to the Herald-Leader. He even earned his way back to the state tournament in doubles, though he and his partner ended up losing in straight sets.
Though they didn’t win the state title, there is little doubt Raleigh’s story is incredibly inspirational. After reading that this kid lost his dominant arm, learned how to play with his other arm and became successful, it makes you feel like nothing should stand in your way of accomplishing dreams. It also makes me wonder what’s more impressive, this, or the one-legged wrestler who became a national champion.
You can’t go wrong with either one, but we do know for certain these stories make you want to accomplish so much more. I also can’t write this story without mentioning my dad who had shoulder surgery and is doing the same thing, continuing to play tennis with his opposite arm. Inspiring stuff.
Photo Credit: Greg Colliver/Lexington Herald-Leader