‘Thinking she had the flu, we took our little girl to the hospital. She was minutes away from dying. ‘She won’t make it through the night,’ the doctor said. She turned to me. ‘Mom, I can do this!’

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“My little girl, Tessa, got very sick back in March of 2017. She was just 6 years old at the time. When we took her to the hospital, we found out that strep got into her blood stream, causing an infection and flesh-eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis. The infection spread throughout her tiny body so rapidly that the doctor told us, ‘She has a 20% chance of survival.’ Moments later, they basically began to prepare her father and I for her death. ‘She probably will not make it through the night,’ we were told.

We took her to the hospital thinking she just had the flu, so it was much to our surprise that our little girl was minutes away from dying. In order to save her life, they told us they would have to amputate her leg. The most difficult thing about this was that Tessa is very competitive dancer. Her passion is being on stage. Just a few months before she got sick, she was the youngest child to make the company dance team at her studio.

Courtesy of Tina Puma
Courtesy of Tina Puma

It was heartbreaking to us to hear what was going to have to happen to our baby, but we told the doctor, ‘Do anything you have to in order to save our baby girl!’ And they did just that.

Prior to getting her prosthetic leg, she entered her dance studio with a walker. She watched and studied all the other kids, determined to remain engulfed in her passion for dance. It was hard for her to not be out there doing what she loves, but she was just happy to be there and be alive. Out of nowhere, she turned to me and said, ‘Mom, I am going to dance again! I am going to tumble again, too! I know I can do this.’

Courtesy of Tina Puma

I told her it was going to be difficult, but that I would never tell her she can’t do it. ‘It’s going to be hard, but please don’t ever give up,’ I said to her. Those words stuck with her and she never gave up on her hopes and dreams.

On April 1, 2017, her left leg was amputated as planned. She later woke up from her coma three days later, her entire body wrapped in white gauze. The doctors cut all the infection out of her body by performing multiple skin grafts that encompassed the whole left side of her. Today, almost 40% of her body is covered in scars. She lost one muscle in her shoulder, portions of her rib cage, shoulder, arm, and chest.

Courtesy of Tina Puma
Courtesy of Tina Puma
Courtesy of Tina Puma

Despite all of this, our little girl beat the odds of survival and came out stronger than ever.

Courtesy of Tina Puma
Courtesy of Tina Puma

Just weeks after receiving her first prosthetic leg, she was back to learning to dance. It was her new normal and she pushed through head on.

Courtesy of Tina Puma

Soon after, they placed her in one of the company competition dance groups and she even formed a trio with two of her best friends. All three of them went to competitions and won first-place platinum awards over any other dance in their category!

Courtesy of Tina Puma

They also went to a national dance competition and took home the giant first-place over all trophy. I am proud to say that she is a NATIONAL dance champion!

Courtesy of Tina Puma

It didn’t stop there though. We built Tessa her very own in-home dance room complete with full-length mirrors on the wall. She practices every single day! She gets better and better and this year she will be competing in FIVE dances at multiple dance competitions. She is beyond excited.

Today, Tessa is dancing through life like any other child her age. In addition to dancing, she loves shopping and sports as well.

Courtesy of Tina Puma
Courtesy of Tina Puma

She is determined to show the world that this hiccup in life will not bring her down. She will rise up to any challenge and do it with her signature smile on her face, and a giant bow in her hair. She has mastered her handsprings again with a prosthetic leg and does it with such grace.

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Yesss!!💙🎀💙

A post shared by Tessa Puma🎀 (@tessa_csds) on

She wants to show the world what strength and determination can do. She wants to show the world her superpower: positivity!”

Courtesy of Tina Puma

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tina Puma. You can follow Tessa’s journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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