NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)- There’s a rare and vicious cancer that you many not have heard of called “angiosarcoma”. A Metairie woman known as “Flamingo Girl” because she only has one leg, fought it and won, and she’s found inspiration in an unusual way through flamingoes.
News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez shares the story of “Flamingo Girl”.
35-year old, Vashti Hardouin loves flamingoes. She understands them and can identify with these beautiful birds. They are her spirit animal.
“See my flamingo leg. It is just like theirs. Flamingoes balance themselves with ease and that’s what I’m learning to do,” she said.
Vashti’s leg was removed two months ago after discovering she had an extremely rare cancer known as “angiosarcoma”.
“I was at the hospital. I stood in front of the mirror, looked in the mirror and said I feel like a flamingo. Whenever I picture flamingoes, they are always standing at a 90 degree angle, on one leg,” Hardouin said.
From that point on, she’s been known as “Flamingo Girl”. She said she first noticed something was wrong back in January of this year when her leg felt like it was asleep.
“I was actually in tremendous pain. My foot briefly fell asleep and that’s what made me run to the ER. Before the enormous amount of pain, it felt like a pulled muscle,” she said. Doctors later discovered the tumor. She said the tumor was so large that over a 7 month period, the pain gradually increased until the pain was so unbearable.
“It was the size of from my knee, all the way to the hip, and both sides of my thigh. The pain was off the charts until finally my leg needed to be removed,” she said.
Before he right leg was removed, she sought treatment internationally in two countries. Her friends were the ones to quickly raise all the money for her to go.
“The gratitude I feel for them in making that happen for me is huge. I have come this far because of their help. They helped me to move forward. Something changed in my heart. I feel like my purpose now is to bring hope and encouragement to others,” she said.
“Flamingo Girl” hopes to shed light on angiosarcoma through visiting kids and vets in hospitals who have lost limbs to a new yard campaign. She’s using plastic pink flamingoes to raise awareness. Its simple…buy two plastic flamingoes, write angiosarcoma awareness on them, put them in a yard, and then post a picture to Facebook.
“Make sure to use the hashtag teamvashti (#teamvashti),” she said.
Losing a leg hasn’t been easy on Vashti. She said it feels as if her leg is still there. She gains strength from her loving mom, her friends, and her 97-year old World War II Vet Grandpa, Ernest. Ernest was a fighter pilot instructor during the war. He helps her with her physical therapy.
Check out the video of them doing physical therapy here:
Vashti does plan on getting a prosthetic leg. She’s currently looking for help to afford one, but in the meantime she’ll stand strong, like a flamingo!
If you’d like to help #TeamVashti, click HERE:
On Sunday, Oct. 4th in the afternoon at 2:15 p.m. there will be a special Second Line parade, “Vashti’s Victory Parade” to raise awareness for angiosarcoma. “Flamingo Girl” is spearheading the parade. The parade starts at Washington Square park and heads down Frenchmen Street.