Junior adjusts to life with prosthetic leg


Pictured above are junior Billy Coombs and his girlfriend, junior Katie Seibert. Coombs and Seibert celebrated their two-year anniversary Tuesday. 

Armando Marin, Associate News Editor

As an economics and English double-major, junior Billy Coombs deals with a lot of information in his classes, but he is also learning something most Tulane students do not have to: how to adjust to a prosthetic leg.

After being diagnosed with synovial sarcoma last May, Coombs went through chemotherapy and had his leg amputated in October while taking the semester off.

Coombs has been walking on crutches since he received his prosthetic leg. He said he is quickly adapting to it and can even walk without the crutches for a short while.

“I’m looking forward to the progression of learning to use the leg,” Coombs said. “I only have one crutch. [Tuesday] was the first day that I actually left the other crutch at home. Being able to carry stuff in one hand is huge. As it’s getting better, I can walk without any crutches for a short amount of time before it starts to hurt my leg, but enough to carry my laundry to the washing machine, which is nice.”

Coombs is a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. His fraternity brothers raised the money for his Bespoke prosthetic, an auxiliary structure around a prosthetic leg, by holding a car bash in November. Coombs said he was unaware of the event until the last minute and is grateful to his brothers.

“[The car bash] was amazing,” Coombs said. “I had no idea about it until the day before. Billy Pavord, who was philanthropy chair, invited me to the event on Facebook. I was shocked, but then I felt so loved. It was great to have all of their support. It really meant a lot.”

Coombs said he is glad to be back at Tulane this semester and that his absence last semester was comparable to studying abroad.

“I’m so happy to be back and see all the people I missed,” Coombs said. “I guess it’s very similar to coming back from being abroad. So many people were abroad fall of junior year; it’s the main time to do [it]. It was good timing, in a way.”

Coombs and his girlfriend, Katie Seibert, celebrated their two-year anniversary Tuesday. He said she was a critical part of his recovery.

“She stayed with me all summer until she went home and then went to Denmark [to study abroad],” Coombs said. “It was great to have her there through that time when I first found out about the cancer.”

Coombs is originally from Poolesville, Maryland. but underwent chemotherapy in Houston. He said he was surprised to see Seibert when she visited him during the process.

“I was walking to get chemo on the second day of my sixth cycle,” Coombs said. “[Seibert] is walking toward me on the street, and I was speechless. She had taken a flight to see me when she could have been traveling abroad in Europe, and it was amazing. She’s definitely made the process so much easier on me.”

Seibert said she is happy that her boyfriend is back this semester and looks forward to life going back to normal.

“It’s not back to normal, but it’s closer [to] back to normal,” Seibert said.

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