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About the worst minute in her life, dancing and feelings of happiness

Fast Confession - Daniela Pecinová: I Swapped My Leg for Life

Karolína Lišková
19.Nov 2018
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8 minutes

Young girl from Mariánské Lázně enjoyed life to its fullest, but one day her world collapsed. It began as a common pain in leg, but it resulted in a crushing message from the doctors. Knee cartilage tumour. To save her life, they had to amputate her leg. Today, Daniela Pecinová is an idol of handicapped girls and boys. She fell in love with dancing and pole dancing. And she was able to break through in the world competitions despite her missing leg.

You come from Marianské Lázně, you live in Pilsen and now we meet in Prague hotel Pyramid. What is happening here?

There is a Gala of Cesta za Snem, which is a looking back over this year and a summarizes all the projects, and Metrostav Handy Cyklo Marathon (teams run 2222 km in time limit of 111 hours, Ed.) It's a great event and I'm happy to be part of it. I am a member of the historically first female team Osmikrásky. All teams and handicapped people meet here and it's a very motivating event. Last year I performed, but this year I will enjoy it as a guest.

You yourself have a disability, even it is not seen at first glance. Have you begun your charity work and working with the disabled after your injury?

Yes, after it happened to me. That's why I started to integrate into this society. They are very nice people and I feel well among them.

Do you think you would have found out how nice they were if you didn’t have your handicap?

Hard to say.

Luxusní byt 4+kk s terasou na prodej, Praha
Luxusní byt 4+kk s terasou na prodej, Praha, Praha 5

What do they give you the most? Do you learn from them, or do they learn from you?

I enjoy the humour among the handicapped people because it’s very black. We also motivate each other, I like getting to know their stories, attitudes to life and what they are doing today. Together, we can motivate healthy people or children.

I'm very interested in that black humour, because we don’t dare to use it, we would look terribly inhuman. How do you "tease" each other?

I'm trying to spread it among the healthy people, too. When I go to training and there are some moves where the girls have to get their leg somewhere, I say: "Ha ha ha, it doesn’t bother me there!" I really do not mind doing this move, because it's easier for me, when I don’t have a leg. If I had the other leg, it would be more difficult to do this move.

And what do they say to you?

They're cool with it now. When I take off the prosthesis, I can say I'll "jump" to the toilet. Because I really jump on one leg. So we make fun of it.

How long did it take you to start making fun of yourself?

I never wanted to make a tragedy out of it. Because I'm from a small town, so from the beginning when I lost my leg and everyone in the neighbourhood knew it, I didn’t want them to look at me pityingly, but rather in a way that it’s OK and that I will wear a prosthesis.

However, one must come to this by himself...


And how long did it take you?

I think it didn’t take long. It was a great relief for me, really. When I revealed to those people that I don’t want them to show regret, it was fast. I have to say I don’t even know why I settled with it so quickly. But I’m glad.

Tell me, what exactly happened to you.

It has been ten and a half years since I lost my leg because of knee cartilage tumour. For half a year I went from a doctor to a doctor, so that’s why I said that it was a relief for me. I accepted that I gave my leg for my life.

How old were you, sixteen?

Seventeen. Actually it begun when I was sixteen and when I was seventeen, in May 2008, they amputated my leg.

How did they find the tumour? Did the leg hurt you?

First, the knee ached and then it begun to swell. They treated me, I underwent arthroscopy, they treated me for inflammation. We fled from the regional hospital, within three days, a large committee met and sent me to hemato-oncology. I lay there for fourteen days. I was already annoyed because I did not know what was wrong with me, and I had to take morphine.

Then Mom came with the diagnosis. That was the worst minute. They said it was serious, and we came five past twelve. I had the opportunity to undergo chemotherapy or try alternative treatment, which I did. I pulled myself together mentally and that's why I'm here today.

Why didn’t they find it sooner?

I was a 17-year-old girl, so why should they do magnetic resonance, isn’t that useless? I don’t know. But they rejected it three times before I got to Motol. It was one of the first examinations that I had in Motol.

When they say, "Look, we'll cut off your leg." It must be terrible!

I remember I wanted to save my leg, that’s why I underwent the alternative treatment. It’s called Breuss Treatment. You drink only vegetable juices and herbal teas for six weeks. The tumour doesn’t get the protein and sugar that it feeds upon, and it should give up. Although I didn’t save my leg, I pulled myself together mentally because I was able to be at home with the closest ones. No one will ever prove that didn’t save my life by this.

Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 5 – 327m2
Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 5 – 327m2, Praha 5

Then I started making fun of it. Do you know the movie Male Gigolo with Deuce Bigalow? There's Kate without leg. And as I underwent the alternative treatment, I said, "Well, if I won’t be able to save my leg, then I'll be like Kate. She is a pretty and slim girl." I was making fun of it back then, so I was ready for it.

It is said that if you get your leg cut off, you can still feel it.

I can feel it, maybe even today. When I lie down on a bed on my stomach, I feel as if it was bent. But I read the book Yellow World, in which the boy knew he was going to lose his leg and he said he had no phantom pain, which is the pain after the amputation. And that he does not even feel it. It's all in your head. The doctor advised him to make a farewell party for his leg, to say goodbye to it. Maybe this helped him mentally. Some suffer more phantom pain, some less. I have to knock; I feel it only when the weather changes. As if someone poked my knee with a knife.

How did you get to pole dancing?

Through my best friend who studied in Pilsen. She came to our small town full of enthusiasm that it's great and that we can try with her. So I went with her to see the training and tried a few basic moves. It caught me and I started going there once a week. Then I moved there, more or less because I wanted to do the sport more, but we didn’t have any studio with poles in our town.

And how do you make it without your leg?

That's what I’m always trying to say. I am grateful to all those who train any sport that they don’t cast me off and that they try to invent variants where I don’t need my leg. Then there are, of course, the types of sports I do wearing my prosthesis, for example when I go to a gym or a circuit training. Compensation in the pole dance is also important, so sometimes it is easier, sometimes it is harder. But I got used to it, and the coach invents poses where I don’t need the leg.

When they told you they were taking your leg and you got used to not having it, did you think you would be in such a condition to win the world championship in the future?

Not at all. I'd been doing some sports before, but I didn’t think about such accomplishment.

What is the feeling of standing on the podium? With only one leg...

Beautiful, touching. Furthermore, in that situation, the audience gave me standing ovations. It's moving, though the category is not so widespread. It's really motivating me, it's a satisfaction.

What are your other successes?

Triple Champion of the Czech Republic and Double World Champion in para pole dance.

Do you also receive encouraging messages from strangers?

Yeah, sometimes I happen to get some messages or someone contacts me on Facebook. But it's rather comments on YouTube videos. But I don’t like to read it because I am sorry to see some negative criticism from persons sitting at home watching TV, doing nothing and spreading dispute and hatred.

So is there any negative criticism?

It definitely is. But as I said, I don’t usually read those comments. When I look every now and then I can see that some people get motivated. I know it from hearing from other people. The people who get motivated don’t always have a chance to see me live and meet me so they can watch me like that.

What about love? As women, we suffer from various handicaps, whether cellulitis or something else. But I cannot imagine a scenario, in which I have only one leg, go to a bar and hit on somebody in there...

It was here that woman's side suffered the most after the amputation. I have to admit it. But I met a person who likes me with my handicap. We have been cultivating our love for three years and its thriving and I am very happy.

How did you meet?

I helped in a bar in one club in Mariáské Lázně where concerts take place. We looked at each other, and he wrote first, though he then said that he usually didn’t write first. We started writing, but it was much more complicated because he went abroad to work twice in the summer and winter season. But eventually, we found a way to each other. Shortly after we started dating, he moved to me because my roommate had left. We said it would or wouldn’t work. And it's been two years. We live together and we are happy.

What does he need to do to live with you? Do you need help with something?

I was lucky to find apartment with lower bathtub and so on. I need him to help me in the household. We have a dog, so he walks him. But it is not difficult, it is certainly less demanding than living with a person on a wheelchair.

Do you have some blunders? For example, Martin Zach told me that at the beginning of his handicap he was experiencing blunders when he was getting out of his car and his wheelchair drove off and he fell. Has something like that happened to you?

Yes, because when I put on my prosthesis I need to put the stump of my leg into a special bag so that the stump and the skin are straightened. Sometimes I forget it somewhere. And when the stump gets sweaty, it has to be changed. So we were somewhere with the girls and I told them that I needed at least some bag from Kaufland. But they know I'm free-hearted when talking about my disability. (laughter)

You are very sporty. Is there something you cannot do, but would like to? Or did you try something without thinking of it before?

That's pole dancing. I claimed that I would never got on the pole with two legs, because I had problems with pole climbing at elementary school. Now I make fun of it, it’s such an irony. Now I am also enjoying climbing on the pole and it is a challenge for me to put a toe up there. So that it is visually and aesthetically in order in terms of climbing itself. Otherwise I have no hindrance in doing any sport. But I have to want enough to go, try it out and learn it.

And is there something like that?

For two years now I’ve been wanting to learn how to ride a horse and a bike. But I know that when I will really want to and there will be opportunity and time, I will be able to do it. I have plenty of open options in other sports.

Are you making money doing your performances, or is it still only for fun?

It's more of an exhibition.

Do you have any other competition and another goal ahead of you?

Right now I found out that we will not have opened category in the Czech Championship, so it will really be only a motivational show. But that does not mean I will stop trying to learn new moves. I like showing new things I've learned. Also, the ball season starts and I have agreed to do some performances in Mariánské Lázně, which I am looking forward to because they approached me from the school where I went to high school and from the studio where I go to compensatory training. We also have a duet with a friend who sings live, and I perform. We enjoy it, we have it as a common hobby.

Daniela, thank you very much for the interview. I wish more successes!

Fast confession:

How fast can you get used to a life without a leg?

It's up to the situation, it depends if it happens suddenly, or it's a long-term problem.

Describe which move on the pole is the hardest for you?

Surely those moves where I have to rely on my arms.

Your life motto, without which you would not go any step further?

Enjoy every day as though it was the last, because you never know what can happen.

When did you last see the world black?

Probably yesterday when I closed my eyes before falling asleep. (laughter)

Name three benefits of living with a prosthesis versus living with both healthy legs?

Surely you look at life with other eyes, but I don’t know three benefits right now.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained or rather A bird in the hands is worth two in the bush?

Is there anything in between?

Who is your biggest life support?

Currently it’s my boyfriend, but during the whole affair it was my mom and family.

What is your life dream?

Enjoy my life to its fullest and once have a family stability and a happy family life.

When did you last have fun with your partner?

In Austria, we went up to two thousand meters, it was fun and nice.

What is the most effective diet you would recommend to our readers?

I certainly wouldn’t recommend a diet, if anything, change the overall menu.

What do you love the most about your life?


Do you think the proverb – Honesty is the best policy – applies?

It depends, I am trying to be honest all the time, but I think this motto is accurate nowadays.

Worst minute in your life?

When my mom announced my diagnosis and treatment options.

If you could invite some of the politicians to your pole dance training, who would you like to see on the pole?

I wouldn’t want that.
The interviewer asks the editor:

What is your motto?

For every swine there is a butcher. (laughter)
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Rychlá zpověď - Monika Granja:
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Rychlá zpověď - Martin Zach:
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