Beating the odds
It's barely six years since Oscar Reinoso was told he would never walk again.
Now the 52-year-old Argentinian says his life is better because of the cancer that took his leg.
He's had a miraculous recovery and is travelling the world to get more people with physical disabilities into adaptive tennis.
Mr Reinoso has been staying with his son Lautaro in Ellerslie and played a friendly game at the ASB Classic in December.
This week he is heading across the ditch to hit the courts at the Australian Open, the largest international event he's played in.
Mr Reinoso was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer which usually occurs in bone joints (East & Bays Courier, July 20, 2011), in 2007.
A tumour behind his knee meant he had to have his leg amputated and was left with a wooden peg where his thigh, knee, shin and foot were before.
"I was like a parrot," he laughs.
Doctors said never walking again was the best case scenario for Mr Reinoso - if he didn't have the amputation he would only have lived for two weeks.
"When I found out about the cancer it was a big shock. I had to decide whether to keep going or finish everything. I thought, ‘I don't want to do this anymore'. It was so, so hard.
"But then I thought if you're not going to do it then you won't see your family any more."
Mr Reinoso has always had a passion for sport, especially tennis, and quickly aspired to get back out on the court after his operation.
Now he plays adaptive tennis in a standing position on a prosthetic leg. He is one of only a few players worldwide.
Most adaptive tennis players are in wheelchairs but Mr Reinoso can play like an able-bodied person.
The type of artificial leg he wears is not usually used for running but Mr Reinoso recently completed a marathon.
He says playing tennis gives him the opportunity to do something he loves and help others while he can.
He has had three more tumours cut out of his back since the amputation and is currently tumour-free but there are no guarantees, he says.
"After the amputation I couldn't find a way to keep alive. The only solution was to keep playing sport.
"The cancer is my best friend because if it dies, then I die and I can't keep helping people."
Mr Reinoso is interested in talking to schools and hospitals about adaptive tennis and has started the Oscar Reinoso Foundation in order to push the sport even further. Email oscartennis@ hotmail.com.ar to get in touch.
Go to facebook and search "Oscar Reinoso Sport" for more information.
East And Bays Courier